Archive for August 5th, 2010


Paper/Book Intensive 2010

August 5, 2010

Submitted by Christine Higgins

Christine Higgins, front row left

I recently attended the annual Paper/Book Intensive (PBI) 2010. Meeting throughout the country, this summer it was held at the University of Maine, Machias because of the paper/book arts program facilities developed by Bernie Vinzani. We saw examples of the University collection of Eastern and Western papers and exhibitions of beautiful book arts. What a great resource this is for our state.

Originating more than 25 years ago at Ox-bow, Michigan; PBI is run by dedicated book and paper arts volunteers. Participants come from all over and half the attendees each year are new. One must apply to be accepted. As a first-time participant, I took three classes which focused on my interest in artist made paper as a medium. The workshop was a total of 12 days. The instructors are highly qualified professionals.

The schedule consists of 4 half day classes, and 4 days of focused studio.  Presenters and guest artists discuss their work each evening. Events are planned on the weekend to visit area artist studios and learn about the culture of the geographic location. I visited the Machias petroglyphs, which were described by Passamaquoddy tribal member Donald Sockabasin.

Tatiana Ginsberg, a Fulbright scholar who has studied at some of the oldest dye studios in Kyoto, Japan, taught us kusakizome-gami – natural dye techniques.  Tatiana’s presentations included dip dyeing and brushing using mordants and dyes from soy bean, lotus leaf and bark. We learned that the most fugitive colors were socially reserved for the highest ranks and forbidden to be worn by others.  Tatiana’s extensive cultural references of the history of dye techniques were fascinating.

My equally enjoyable afternoon class was in the paper studio with Frank Brannon of Speakeasy Press in North Carolina. Emphasis was on sculptural armature techniques using a variety of fibers including Alabama kozo and spruce hemlock, personally gathered by Frank. He emphasized environmental awareness in the use of natural materials for creative expression.

For the next four days, I studied coloring techniques with Katie MacGregor.  A professional papermaker, Katie daily produces 100 sheets a day of the finest handmade papers which are purchased by professional artists and conservators. Our class tested many recipes and made samples for each other as well as 2 books for the last-day auction. I now have a wonderful resource of color recipes for my own use.

PBI, for me, was an opportunity to experience a supportive learning environment with professionals in the book and paper arts fields.  Instructors take classes with participants and there is a genuine sharing of skills and resources. The camaraderie was infectious, integration of disciplines educational, and atmosphere very welcoming.

Resources for further information:

Thank you to Christine Higgins, retired art teacher from Cony High School who wrote this overview of her experience.

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