Over the past two months we've done a bit of travelling for the studio. In September we spent a week as artists-in-residence at the lovely Lone Pine Farm & Studio in Bainbridge Island, WA. It was a wonderful break from the day-to-day dealing with all things related to the fire at our home. We had planned to use the time to try out as many new types of plant fibers as we could, and we did just that. Our hosts at Lone Pine (Sarah and Ryan) were kind, gracious and helpful, providing us with awesome studio space, a cozy sleeping yurt, eggs from their chickens and produce from the farm, a lovely welcoming meal and a tour of the M&E public land site of which they are stewards. If you live in or near Seattle we highly recommend checking out one of their artist talks or events. The farm is just a quick ferry ride away.
As this was our first time as artists in residence we felt a certain urgency about utilizing our time wisely and productively. Processing plants for paper can be very labor intensive, so we tried to give ourselves lots of studio time to work through steaming, stripping, cutting, cooking and beating. In other words even though we had been thinking the residency would be a bit like a vacation, it was really more like intensive and very focused work, but in a welcome way. If we had to piecemeal this type of time together at home it would take us several months to get as much done. The plants we ended up using were fava bean husks, indigo stems, scotch broom bast, alder bast and stinging nettle.
We also made a bit of abaca and some recycled paper fiber from office paper waste to make paper for coloring books for our final Kickstarter rewards. It was a little heartbreaking making the paper for the rewards after losing the mobile studio in the fire. But our Kickstarter backers gave us their support and we want to recognize their generosity.
Once we made all of our paper pulps we had an open studio event where we met some of the locals and enjoyed sharing a bit about what we were doing. After that we had a little over one full day to play and do some art making. Gary worked with the fibers to create layered pulp paintings and Jenn primarily focused on sheet forming for creating charcoal drawings. We both were working through a lot of emotions related to the fire and ended up making work dealing with themes of control/lack of control, impact/dissipation, and chaos/order. We plan on continuing to explore these ideas and expand on this new series, working collaboratively in a call/response type manner. This is our second time developing a body of work as an artist duo, and we look forward to future projects where Pulp & Deckle is not just our studio, but it is also our collaborative artist practice.
We did manage to squeeze in a few adventures outside of the studio (and Gary even recorded an episode of his podcast series - I'll Have a Beer and Talk) during the residency. One evening we saw a beautiful and quiet sunset at Fay Bainbridge Park. Jenn picked up a mussel shell to cast into paper, along with a few seabird feathers, and Gary took lots of documentation photos. Another evening we visited BARN (Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network) to attend a book signing and talk by Tara Whitsitt of Fermentation on Wheels. Tara gave a sauerkraut making demo and tour of her mobile fermentation lab, a converted school bus that she has traveled the country in, teaching workshops and collaborating with schools, nonprofits, community centers and others to expand fermentation education. We felt a lot of simpatico with Tara's ideas and outreach efforts, and it was also really great to check out the amazing facilities available at BARN.
Another positive outcome of the residency was that we were able to try out packing up much of our studio equipment into our new vehicle, a Volvo SUV. Since we lost both our mobile studio and our station wagon in the fire (we didn't have comprehensive fire insurance to cover the cars) we were able to buy 1 replacement vehicle with a loan from family. Until we can get back on more stable financial footing and grow our studio income we will be using the Volvo as both our personal vehicle and to transport studio equipment for offsite workshops, demos and events. While we still hope to replace the mobile studio in the future (you can help out by contributing to our Go Fund Me) we are relieved to have a reliable car big enough to pile much of our equipment into.
Now that we have this residency experience under our belts we are keeping our eyes peeled for other short term or low-res opportunities where we can have the time and space to continue exploring paper made from local plants. We hope to process more scotch broom fibers in the future as it is an invasive plant that yields a really lovely bast fiber. Working with farm waste is also an area we'd like to dig into more deeply. So if you have any suggestions for residency opportunities or artistic collaborations with farms that you think would be a good fit for our papermaking explorations, let us know in the comments or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our next blog post we'll recap our trip to the annual Friends of Dard Hunter Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA. Stay tuned....
Pulp & Deckle is a handmade papermaking studio located in Portland, OR.