Papermaking is still one of New England’s traditional manufacturing industries, although not as widespread as in the past. Today, Massachusetts has 13 operating paper mills, including Crane Paper in Dalton, which makes all the paper used in the printing of US currency. Hand papermaking, however, is a relatively rare craft.
Paper is stable, pliable, and practical. Invented in China more than 2,000 years ago, paper remains a fundamental agent for transmitting knowledge (writing, printing), and for designing things (sketching, modeling).
This year the folk craft area features a variety of traditions that use paper as a medium for folding, cutting, shaping, illumination, marbling, designing, and play. Paper comes in many forms. You can see alum-coated paper used in marbling; colored tissue paper used in Mexican piñata making; handmade, textured paper used in wet-fold origami; architectural paper used in making models; rolls of patterned wall paper used by professional paperhangers; and recycled notebook paper children have used for generations to make fortune tellers, spit balls, and paper airplanes.
Try your hand at manuscript illumination. Watch how magical patterns appear on a floating liquid surface and are manipulated to make marbled paper. Fold a cootie catcher. And learn where the phrase “beaten to a pulp” comes from, by riding bicycle-driven papermaking equipment.
Participating craft artists:
Michael LaFosse & Richard Alexander, origami and hand paper making
Jeannine Mosely, computational origami
Regina & Dan St. John, paper marbling
Susan Urban, wycinanki, Polish paper cut designs
Amy Fagin, illuminated manuscripts
Drew Matott & Margaret Mahan, hand paper making
Heidi L. Johnson, professional paper hanging
Russell A. Call, architectural drawing and model making
Eleanor Yeomans & Mary Bogue, children’s paper lore
Angelica Ortiz, Mexican piñata making