Travel can be a disorienting gift. The displacement we experience outside of our usual routines and familiar landmarks often results in a variety of feelings and thoughts. Excitement, fear, stress, curiosity, are just a few of the things I felt during our most recent journey to the American Southwest.
The planning of our journey began a few months back, when we realized that the Friends of Dard Hunter annual papermaking conference (#EarthPaperSky) was taking place in Santa Fe, NM and that coincidentally, some of our closest friends were planning on moving to Taos, NM that same week. A scheme started to hatch where in exchange for driving their moving truck, we could stay with our friends (about a 1.5 hour drive away from the conference) and they would help us out with travel costs. We knew from attending the past 2 conferences that lodging and transportation were our main expenses, so we figured we might be able to afford the trip with this unique arrangement in mind.
Plans came together. We hit the road on a Sunday, travelling through the Columbia River Gorge into Idaho, where we would stay in Boise, then made our way on to Moab, Utah, enjoyed a brief leg in Colorado, arriving in Taos on the third day of driving. The days were long and the scenery beautiful. I fell into a mesmerizing state of nowness. Every time my mind would drift to thoughts about my normal, daily concerns I would bat them away and meditate on the landscape, on my driving speed, on the temperature of the truck cabin. My concerns came down to bathroom breaks, safe driving, listening to podcasts and grooving to the tunes of the Casbah. ( As an aside- If you don't know the Casbah program from San Antonio you should check it out. Downloading episodes for long roadtrips has helped grease the wheels of my and Gary's relationship. Seriously. Big thanks to Casbah host Brian Parrish!)
Once we were in Taos we unloaded the moving truck into our friend's new earthship home. I've recently realized that a lot of people don't know what earthships are. If you're not familiar with alternative building techniques like strawbale homes, shipping container homes, etc. you might not have seen or heard about earthships. Check out this page to learn more about how awesome they are - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthship.
Entering the desert landscape in this part of New Mexico was a little bit like landing on an alien planet. The sky was blue and vast, the trees were short and the mountain peaks (for now) were bare. At first I didn't think the higher altitude was effecting me too greatly, but after several days I started to feel like my nasal passages were constantly dried out and my lips cracked without a consistent application of chap-stick. I really enjoyed the landscape despite the dryness. There is a rugged beauty and sense of peace in the open sky. The morning and evening light was indeed golden. Sadly, the feeling of being in the present moment that I embraced on the drive started to fall away as we had to plan for attending the papermaking conference. We only had about a day in between driving and conference attending, so we did our best to soak up some down-time in Taos.
On arriving in Santa Fe we felt the familiar hustle and bustle of cars, people and activities. I'll write a separate account of our time at the conference, but for now I want to focus on the act of travel and what I think it does to our brains. One of the things Gary commented on was that when looking at the ever present adobe architecture we encountered, he couldn't place how old buildings were, as the signs of age and construction he is accustomed to weren't present. I think of this as an apt way of describing travel in general. Your usual markers for navigating the world drift away and you are left to engage anew.
Here's why I think travel is important. It awakens your curiosity and (hopefully) alters and expands your understanding of the world. Of course I am sure that many people travel and try and stick to the familiar so that there worldview is not challenged, and that their experience stays familiar. I feel badly for those people. A bit of the unknown can do a body (and mind) good. I also recognize what an amazing privilege it is to travel. Not everyone can afford to go beyond the place where they live and work. I strongly believe that providing people with an opportunity to see other spaces, cultures and landscapes can transform our understanding of the world and drive a more emapthetic and sustainable culture. Educational programs like Outdoor School in Oregon help give a glimpse to children of the world in this way.
Our next trip will be a family centered one over Thanksgiving. We'll be flying to Hot Springs, and visiting the Crystal Springs Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. After that we don't know where the next adventure will take us. I'm hoping we can go somewhere to celebrate my 40th birthday in April. I'd love to return to Paris and/or London (I lived in Paris for a year back during my undergrad studies), or visit a friend who lives in Japan, but international travel means we need more $$$$. Other possibilities are visiting Big Sur in California, or heading up to the San Juan Islands. Time (and money) will tell.
I'd love to know where you've traveled to lately and why you think it an important part of the human experience. Comment here and let me know.
- Jenn Woodward
Co-Founder and Lead Instructor, Pulp & Deckle
Since the successful completion of our Kickstarter campaign in August, we've been working on getting our mobile papermaking studio, aka, The Pulp Mobile, up and running. For those who don't know about the campaign, we raised $11,688 from 101 backers to purchase a former espresso food truck and transform it into our papermaking studio. You can read more about our reasons for doing that in our last blog post.
The three main things we need to get the Pulp Mobile polished up and road worthy are 1.) finish scraping off the old espresso truck graphics, 2.) get new vinyl logos installed, 3.) get a tune-up. We're trying to stretch the remaining funds from the Kickstarter to make these things happen and still have enough money left over to fulfill the rewards for our Kickstarter backers. Needless to say, the budget is tight. We knew every penny would count, so we're being as frugal as we can.
While we work on the truck and fulfill the rewards we're busy keeping things moving forward with our residency program, workshops, and custom orders.
In mid-November we will move out of our current studio space inside of the c3:initiative and transition to hosting workshops in our home garage space in North Portland, and at guest locations with our mobile studio. Any big change to a business can be nerve wracking as you're not sure how things will pan out. We've taught enough workshops at guest locations that we are confident that we'll be able to drum up consistent interest in the mobile studio, but it never hurts to ask for help in getting the word out. If you know of a business, organization, school or private group that would be interested in having us come out with the mobile studio to teach, send us an email! We are eager to start scheduling workshops and can customize our offerings for groups of various sizes, ages, abilities and experience levels.
And if you weren't able to contribute to the Kickstarter but want to support the mobile studio effort, check out our Patreon page. For as little as $1 a month you can help support our creative business and keep the art of papermaking alive!
Our most sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone who has helped us turn our schemes and dreams into reality! You are truly THE BEST and we are so lucky to get to share our passion for paper with all of you.
Over the past year or so we've seen snowballing change in Portland. The city is struggling with growing pains that have resulted in a housing crisis, the shuttering of iconic businesses, and the displacement of artists. Yesterday the IPRC (Independent Publishing Resource Center) announced the need to move as their rent was increased by 300%. They've launched a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their move (we saw the announcement right as it went up and were proud to be the first backers.) This is the most recent in a growing trend of art spaces that are no longer affordable for their tenants. While we recognize the need for new construction to help ease real estate costs, we also see the need for alternative spaces to be available for creative use, such as the 7 acre eco-industrial park, Green Anchors.
Doing a google search for "art spaces displacement artists Portland Oregon" it's easy to see that artists and art spaces are struggling. Here's a list of articles from the past several months;
And last year artist Carye Bye wrote a very personal account on why she could no longer stay in Portland that was published by Willamette Week.
Looking at this, you might think we're feeling pessimistic about Portland's future. While it would be foolish to not be concerned, we are choosing to be optimistic. We love Portland. We choose this city, warts and all. No place is perfect, but there is so much that is good about Portland that we don't want to give up on living here. Our hope is that the new growth will shine a light on problems so that we as citizens can try to do something about them. If Portland wants to have a diverse (racially, culturally, and economically) populous we need to find ways to shape the future beyond the pull of market forces.
How can we do this? One way is to support the artists, orgs and small businesses that draw people to want to be here. If you don't patronize them, they will go away. Even large institutions that might seem like they could withstand tough times are not immune, as we saw with the recent closing of the Museum of Contemporary Craft. One of the major reasons cited for the closure was that the museum had been operating on a deficit for several years. While it can't be said for certain that increased attendance and donations would have saved the museum from closing, it certainly would have made it less likely.
Another way is to help out when help is needed. If you can't give to a kickstarter or other fundraising effort, then share their message so it reaches people who can give. If you have more time than money consider volunteering. Go see art, dance and theater exhibitions, especially when it's free to do so. Many artists and orgs get RACC and other grants funding and high attendance reports will help ensure that the projects you want to see will get funded in the future.
It may seem like the problems are too big for any of us to make a difference. That's why we have to come together. Resource sharing is something we've had the benefit of over the past several years, during our time in the c3:initiative creative business incubator. This is not a new way for artists and small businesses to survive, but it is an increasingly important one considering Portland's increasing real estate costs. A recent example of resource sharing is the XOXO Outpost, a pay-what-you-can shared workspace founded by graphic designer Andy McMillan and Andy Baio, who helped found Kickstarter. The more we can come together and pool our resources, the more we can accomplish.
This brings me to our future in Portland. This fall our incubator term is ending. We've known that we would need to find a new space for the studio, and have been looking. And the conclusion was that in order for our business to grow and survive, we have to change our business model. So we are buying a food truck and turning it into a mobile paper studio. Rather than have all our money go towards paying rent on a physical space we are seeking out more partnerships with schools, businesses, artists, and creatives. The truck is small enough that we can park in most driveways, so we can pull up outside an artist's home and they could rent the studio from us for the day. Or we can drive out to a farm on Sauvie and teach a class using agricultural waste to make paper. Or we can set up in a parking lot outside a school and have a pop-up class.
While the mobile model is not a good solution for everyone, it is a good solution for us. And it's becoming a more popular solution for other creative businesses and orgs too. The Portland Opera just unveiled their "Opera a la Cart" truck, a mobile performance venue that you can check out around town this summer. One of the inspirations for our mobile studio came from another notoriously expensive place for real estate, New York City. The ArtBuilt Mobile Studios are using the mobile studio as a platform for publicly engaged art making (something we strongly support!)
We won't lie, we've had many a conversation circling around the idea of leaving Portland and setting up a studio on some acreage near the coast, or in the gorge. We've felt the squeeze of rising costs and increasing debt, like so many others. This is one of the primary reasons why we're crowdfunding for our mobile studio, rather than taking out a business loan. Adding to our student loans, mortgage and credit card debt, health care costs, etc. will make it even more difficult for our small business to survive. Beyond the practical financial concerns, we want to know that the community supports us and wants us to be here.
Since starting our business in the fall of 2012 we've taught hundreds of students and founded an artist residency program, in addition to creating custom orders and retail goods. We've had a lot of positive feedback, and now we need our supporters to take action and help us evolve. Together we can help keep the ART in PoRTlAnd.
Share and contribute to our kickstarter HERE. Thank you!!!
Here's a press release about our newest endeavor- a mobile papermaking studio! Please feel free to share and help us get the word out. We are actively looking for funders, partners, and papermaking enthusiasts to help us stay in Portland and bring pulp to the people!
Portland, OR - July 1, 2016- Pulp & Deckle is a community studio and small business that is dedicated to sharing the art, science, history and craft of handmade paper with others. Since launching in the fall of 2012 they’ve grown exponentially, teaching workshops, making custom orders, starting an artist residency program, and filling a need for those who want to connect with the ancient and fascinating artform of papermaking.
Pulp & Deckle have taught guest classes and workshops at the Bamboo Garden, Portland Community College, Pacific University, the ADX maker space, The Museum of the Oregon Territory, Project Grow at Albertina Kerr, The Northwest Library, and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. They’ve taught hundreds of students at their North Portland studio, both inside their production space and outside under a pop-up tent. Co-founder and Lead Instructor, Jenn Woodward says, “In our classes and workshops we explore the potentiality of paper, empowering students from diverse backgrounds and experience levels to be makers. When you learn how to make something from scratch you have a different understanding of, and appreciation for, what goes into its creation.”
Another aspect of the business is crafting custom orders and selling handmade paper goods on etsy. The studio has made and sold thousands of sheets of paper and paper goods to clients such as McMenamins, for whom they’ve created a line of “beer paper” greeting cards. The primary materials Pulp & Deckle uses to create their eco-friendly products are used textiles (like old t-shirts and jeans), plants (like invasive weeds, and agricultural waste) and recycled paper (like used giftwrap, shredded office paper, and junkmail.)
One of the key reasons the studio has been able to grow is thanks to being in a business incubator with the arts non-profit, c3:initiative, since 2014. Pulp & Deckle Co-Founder Jenn Woodward says, “We've been amazingly lucky to partner with c3:initiative as they've provided us with space for our studio, promotion, and the operating support for our artist residency program. The time is near for us to "leave the nest" and fly on our own as our incubator term is ending in September, and we need your support to take the studio to it's next incarnation.”
“Being small business owners in a city that is experiencing a massive surge in population growth presents some unique challenges.”, said Gary A. Hanson, Co-Founder and Studio Coordinator of Pulp & Deckle. “ As real estate prices have risen many artists have been priced out of living and working in Portland. When we started mapping out our future plans and toured potential new locations, it quickly became clear that the neighborhoods where we would be centrally located are out of our price range. So we’ve decided to get creative. How can we stay in the city, be accessible for our students and clients, and afford our operating costs? WE GO MOBILE!”
So what does going mobile mean exactly? Ideally it means the business will pack up their equipment and go to where their students and clients are. They plan on purchasing a food truck and turning it into a mobile studio and pop-up retail shop. Why a food truck? To make paper you need water and power. Jenn Woodward says, “A food truck setup is ideal in that we can pull up the truck and teach you how to make paper just about anywhere.”
With a completely mobile studio the business hopes to broaden their reach, teaching classes at non-profit orgs like the IPRC, schools, homes, farms, businesses, and at public festivals and events. Gary A. Hanson says, “The idea is that we can bring the studio to you and customize our offerings to your needs, whether we put up our pop-up tent in your driveway, or set up a temporary classroom in a park. We can come to your art afternoon with friends, engagement party, birthday celebration, a private class, or company team building event.” The studio will also have a home based production facility in their garage in North Portland. They plan on offering small workshops and operating their artist residency from this location.
Pulp & Deckle’s Kickstarter fundraising goal for the mobile studio is $10,500. You can find it and get involved at http://kck.st/1r9i9N8. Some of the contributor rewards include a coloring book for adults made with handmade paper, cheeky greeting cards and art prints featuring iconic Oregon scenery, wildflower seed bombs, private instruction, and a “Pulp to the People” t-shirt.
The campaign runs through August 3rd, with the goal of transitioning into their mobile studio in September. To learn more about Pulp & Deckle and where you can find them around town this summer, visit pulpanddeckle.com.
Pulp & Deckle is currently located at 7326 N Chicago Ave. Portland, OR 97203.
Open by appointment, event, or workshop only.
Contact Jenn Woodward for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are? -T.S. Eliot
It's been a long week at home and at the studio. Our eldest chicken, Barbarella, passed away yesterday. We got her just about 6 years ago. She was a sweet and curious lady who liked to get in the middle of whatever we were doing while we gardened. And she loved tortilla chips. One summer day we were having a snack in the yard and she discovered how delicious they are.
When we realized Barb was sick we wanted to jump into action and pick up meds to try and perk her up. But we both needed to go to work. Even though Jenn is mainly self-employed via P&D, we have meetings, orders, classes to prep. for, etc. that are mostly time sensitive. I.E., being self employed doesn't mean you can necessarily drop everything at work to take care of things at home. Clients and students have deadlines and expectations, and if we don't meet them, our business looks bad, and our financial bottom line suffers. You could argue that things come up, emergencies happen, and that people will understand. And that is often true. In the end each of us has to decide how to make the best choice for that moment in time. When you're your own boss, you call the shots for better, or worse.
We've been thinking about what a disservice it is to only post happy, upbeat posts about our business, because even though those posts are real, they only tell part of the story. We are all too human in our fears, worries, stresses, etc. We count our blessings and good fortune every day, but sometimes the scales tip and we need to process and work through frustrations and disappointments.
One of the things that's been on our mind lately is what's next. Our business incubator with the c3:initiative is wrapping up at the end of Sept. and we will be moving out of our current studio space. While we're working on an outline of a plan for next steps for our business, we're not quite ready to put it out into the world just yet. In the next few weeks we will firm up some things and then we'll be able to move forward.
There's been a lot of talk in Portland about artists being displaced as the city grows and the cost of living rises. As owners of a creative business we are all too familiar with the balancing act of income vs. debt. Our studio continues to evolve and grow, and we are excited every time we sell out a class, sell something on etsy, or get a new custom order inquiry. But the reality is we don't always make ends meet, and there are some very sloooow times. We sweat being able to pay our mortgage, our student loans, our credit card bills. We, like so many others in Portland, are trying to figure out the new normal. How do we evolve with the city and grow with her?
These past two months, in between teaching classes, making production paper at Oblation Papers and Press, and working with the artists in the residency program, Jenn has been hammering away at our latest McMenamins card order. We're in the home stretch and need to make just 200 more envelopes to finish up the 400 cards. The pics. from above are of the studio from the past few days.
Recently we've had several people ask us how we manage it all. And the answer is simple. We just do. Sometimes things don't go the way we plan or hope for, but at the end of the day we have to figure it out and make it work. And if one of the metaphorical plates that we're spinning comes crashing down, that is a part of the journey. It's a sucky part to be sure, and then there's all the mess of cleaning up the broken pieces, but what other choice is there really?
We find the best way to keep things in perspective is to come back around to being thankful. Thank you for going on this crazy ride with us. Thank you for your support, your kind words, and your encouragement. Thank you for taking our classes, for telling people about what we do, and for buying our paper and our art. Life can get dark, and messy, and stressful but at the end of the day we know there will be bright, beautiful, lovely times too.
Overall, it's been a good year. We taught, we learned, we spoke, and we listened and most importantly, we're still here! There were more ups than downs. The biggest hurdle continues to be getting the word out about our classes and our offerings. Reaching new students and customers is essential to our continued growth and existence. Thanks to everyone who has spread the word and told your friends and fellow creatives that we're here. We couldn't do it without you! We ask that you continue to share the love of paper and tell people about our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and of course our website, Patreon and etsy pages could always use more eyeballs too.
The new year will start off on a fantastic foot as we welcome our 2016 papermaking residency artists to work in the studio from January - April. Stay tuned later this week for the press release announcing the awards! The four selected artists will each get 60 hours over 1 month to develop new paper based art work. Any time we get artists working in the studio, whether it's through the residency, in a class, or via a membership, the studio hums with purpose and life. While we enjoy doing our own thing and having the space to do it, it's such a gift to be able to share our love of papermaking and our space, with others. Many thanks to our incubator sponsor, c3:initiative for their continued support of the residency program, and of our studio all around.
This year we're also looking forward to teaching workshops at the NW Library, the ADX maker space, Portland Community College, WildCraft Studio School, and Sitka Center for Art & Ecology. As our business continues to evolve we hope to partner with more art centers, businesses, schools, museums, and community groups to offer additional classes outside of the studio. Getting out into the world furthers our goals of connecting more people to the art, science, craft, and history of handmade paper. We believe papermaking is an empowering skill that opens up a world of possibility. When you learn how to make something from scratch you become connected to the material and final product in a whole new way.
We had hoped to get a Metro grant that would give us the bandwidth to expand our free outdoor classes and allow us to purchase the Lee McDonald beater we've had our eye on for the past few years, but alas, it wasn't meant to be and we did not get the grant. If you have any ideas or contacts for helping us expand our community presence we'd love to hear from you! Drop us a line at email@example.com.
To wrap up, here's a slideshow featuring some of the orders, workshops, events, travels, talks, and behind the scenes highlights from 2015.
Our New Year's Eve wish for you is that you have a super duper 2016 with much love, laughs and more ups than downs! See you next year!!!
Pulp & Deckle is a handmade papermaking studio located in Portland, OR.