Wednesday, December 31, 2014

An ordinary life

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
― William Martin

Wishing you all the extraordinary wonders of an ordinary life for the year ahead, and that you are jumping in with both feet.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year!

Wishing you and yours a very happy new year. Thank you for supporting my humble business and allowing me to express myself through this creative outlet that gives my life purpose. The smallest of purchases that you made in 2014 made a difference. THANK YOU!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Save the bow !

I made this sloppy bow at the last minute as a quick way to jazz up a present. It is made out of my handmade paper embedded with wildflower seeds so the recipient can save it for a few months and then plant it this spring. It also plays on a family joke we have where we save the bows every year (we are vicious recyclers) and use them for next year's presents. (Some bows must be a good 20 years old and have every remnant of tape and glue on them from years of trying to make them stick.) Every time someone opens a present, we all yell, "Save the bow !"

Because the present is for a gardener and there are gardening-related items inside, I thought this was a sweet way to top it off, and we only have to save this bow until after the last frost so we can plant it.

Martha Stewart eat your heart out!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Just cranked out a few cards as a last-minute stocking stuffer. These are a joke gift for a friend who doesn't have a computer and is always complaining about how everyone wants her to get one and send them email. Now she can! Ha!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Paper quilt

There are some things that I make that I hate to see go when I sell them. This paper quilt was one of those things. I call it a "Kitchen Quilt" because I made each square of handmade paper with spices and herbs from my kitchen pantry and my window boxes. I used nothing but recycled junk mail that was colored with cinnamon, turmeric, parsley, oregano and such. I poured each square one at a time. Once it was finished, I pressed the quilt under heavy boards, which made all the little squares knit together to form the quilt.

I have moved on to other art forms these days but I loved making paper quilts. I have one hanging in my own kitchen. I mounted it onto foam core and then framed it in a white frame so it would pop against the gray wall. You can't see the rest of the kitchen but the colors in the quilt are all over this dining nook, so the quilt helps pull those colors out as it assists in moving the eye around the room, making a nice harmony. I asked Mr. Papermaker if he would mind if I took this quilt and put it up for sale. He said the right thing: no.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Color match

Finishing up one more custom order before I put up my feet and enjoy the holidays. I had hoped I could get a good match with this color, even though the bride wasn't picky, since it meant mixing pink with some other colors to get this pretty bubblegum shade. I love how she gave me a mock-up of exactly what she was doing with the whole invitation, the color she wanted and where everything would go. It is so helpful to see someone's vision so you can help them achieve it. I was thrilled with how the color came out and so is she!

Saturday, December 20, 2014


I had a request from a customer for some bee-themed items as part of a larger package she was putting together around honey and such. I came up with a hand-carved stamp and some handmade paper that looks like honeycomb. Love custom requests that push me into different directions!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Meditation, part 2

Every once in a while, I write a blog entry and realize later that it wasn't finished. I may write something to what feels like a completion but then find that more percolates up later on. After the other day's post about meditation, I decided that this was one of those times when the story wasn't quite finished. I am not sure what the end is, but I have more to say about meditation as it relates to making paper!

Making paper by hand is a meditative process. It's not just my singular experience. I have read many interviews and bios of other papermakers and have seen this idea repeated:

"Making paper is a relaxing and meditative process that is both expressive and lots of fun."

"Depending on your temperament, preparing your own paper pulp will either be a fascinating, almost meditative process, or a laborious task."

"I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that glass is different from paper; one is three-dimensional, the other is two; one breaks when you drop it, the other doesn’t; one requires major physical labor and sweat to produce, the other only a simple and meditative process."

"In an era when people are losing touch with their hand skills, and the pace of life is ever increasing, the use of old technologies has multiple roles. It allows one to slow down, breathe, and practice something meditative, improving one’s quality of life."
- from the For Beginners column of Hand Papermaking Newsletter #90 (April, 2010)

How curious that, perhaps, I have been meditating all along in the way I have chosen to make a living. I do find it meditating to swirl my hands through the pulp in a vat. There are no other sounds but dripping water and the swishing and splashing of the pulp. I use warm water when I make the pulp during the winter and cool water when in the heat of summer. Sometimes I even make paper outside under the trees, surrounded by my garden. I can't quite identify why it is so soothing to me (and others) and why I love it so much. But one part of the process that is very important to me is making sure I put good energy into what I create. I know it sounds hippy dippy and New Age. But consider this. You make dinner. You are happy and feel love to be making something nourishing and delicious for those who will eat it. You put good intentions into every ingredient even if you aren't doing it on purpose. The food tastes great and the energy you put into it is transferred into those who eat it. On a different day, you are tired and irritated. You make the exact same dinner but it tastes nowhere near as good. I swear you can taste when there is no love. (Have you ever watched Top Chef on Bravo? Carla Hall on Season 5 was always talking about putting love in her food.)

It truly is the same to me when making paper. I am very purposeful to make it with good intentions. (Why does it sound so hokey when I write it down?!) Because I make paper for huge life events, I want the recipients to feel good - happy, blessed, comforted - when they receive my paper. When I make paper for weddings, I think of my own wedding or other happy events. I purposely tune into joyful events in my life and put that passion and joy into the work I make. When I make paper for funerals, I make the paper with enormous empathy, with feelings of hope and kindness, and for the wish of company during the lonely grieving process. (I recently read an interview with Leslie Blodgett, owner of Bare Essentials, about her business. She said you need to know who your customer is. If you can't relate to your customer — in your mind, your heart and your soul — you'll never be able to deliver what they need. I think I have such great feedback because I put my soul into my work and it can be felt.)

While it's a bit uncomfortable to share this with you, who I do not know, even that vulnerability is part of the artistic process. For me, all of this is meditation: intention, slowing down and giving my full focus to a process, creating a unique handmade product, opening myself up, incorporating nature (seeds or pressed flowers) into my work … all of it.

In some of my Etsy listings, I have ended the description of my product with this: "I hope you feel the joy and the passion in everything I make." I really mean it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Christmas Story

No not that one, though that one is one of my all-time favorite movies.

This story is one from a handful of decades ago. It was Christmas Eve and I was straining all evening to hear when Santa Claus would land on the roof so I could get a peek at him. As the youngest child, everybody else knew the secret and was being careless about making noise. I was already overly tired, beyond excited to open presents and on edge that I would miss Santa with all the racket.

When I heard the jingling of bells, I ran wildly around the house in search of the origin of the sound ... only to find one of my big brothers hiding in a dark bathroom behind the door, shaking some bells. When I found him he had an odd look on his face that I didn't understand. (I know now that he was worried that he had ruined my belief in Santa Claus and he would be blamed for upsetting me.) I stomped my foot, put my hands on my hips and yelled at him for having made so much silly noise that I was sure to have missed the REAL Santa Claus.

Hope the holiday season is treating you well and your childhood wishes are realized. Merry Christmas!

OMG - look at how deliriously happy I am on Santa's lap!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Just breathe

I am a life-long hippy-ish person. I don't take aspirin for a headache when a neck massage will solve the problem. I choose foods that aren't overly-processed whenever possible. I wear mostly wool in the winter and cotton in the summer, and don't really touch manmade fibers. I walk whenever I can instead of driving, even when it is blistering hot or ridiculously cold and despite a huge armful of outgoing orders to carry. And I don't choose paper OR plastic - I try to use cloth whenever I can remember to bring it with me!

That said, there are many "crunchy" things that should be in my wheelhouse but just aren't. I don't like any juice that is green, even when there is a lot of fruit in it to sweeten it up. I have never met a medium-rare steak that I didn't love (only occasionally and it must be grass-fed, grass-finished and locally raised, thankyouverymuch). I have never felt the presence of God in the downward dog position while doing yoga, no matter how many times the instructor assures me I will. And I suck at meditating.

But the meditation thing I thought maybe I could change. I see so many studies about how good it is. It lowers blood pressure, helps depression and anxiety, gives peace to those with chronic pain and terminal ailments, and on and on. When I read yet one more article talking about how great it was, I decided to dig in and try it. But not by myself this time. I signed up for an eight-week course, based on the work done by Jon Kabat-Zinn. (He's incredible. Google him and be amazed.)

I recently completed the course. I was hoping by the end that I would be able to easily clear my mind, focus on breathing and relax every part of my body. I thought I would have a daily meditation practice, and that I would start every day in peaceful silence. It didn't quite work out that way. I learned about all kinds of meditation practice, including walking meditation, which I liked the best. While I know it takes years of regular practice and I am just at the beginning, I find it so very challenging to let the superhighway of thoughts drift by without judgment or analyzation. And when I faithfully put on my Body Scan practice CD every day for a 20-minute meditation, I faithfully fall asleep about halfway through and had a lovely little nap.

Although I had some fairly specific ideas and goals that I may not have achieved from the class, I did get a lot more out of it than I bargained for. About mid-way through the session, I was having an extremely stressful day and was overwhelmed. I felt anxious and my head was spinning. A friend happened to call and I started spilling out all the details and the different horrible outcomes that I was bracing myself for and, and, and… Having heard lots of tidbits about my meditation class, she gently asked, "Why don't you meditate?" I hung up the phone, sat down, closed my eyes and scanned my body. My shoulders were up around my ears so I took a deep breath and focused on channeling breath into my shoulders. They came down easily and I rolled the last of the tenseness out of them. My stomach was in knots, so I put my hand on it and did the same. After just 5 minutes, I felt better. Much better, actually. (And everything worked out fine so I had needlessly worked myself up and flushed my body with adrenaline, which is tough on all its systems.)

I learned in walking meditation practice to slow everything down and focus. Take a step slowly and intentionally, feel the bottom of my feet, notice every place where they touched the ground and how it felt without judgment. I learned to observe the good and precious functions of my body, and how I could match my breath to the rhythm of walking. Just this week, I was involved in a transaction where the person helping me was multi-tasking and frantically trying to take care of me, listen to someone giving directions and find something simultaneously. Before my meditation class, I would have participated in the frenzy. This time, I watched with true amazement, marveling at how much better everything would be if this person could slow down, focus on one thing at a time and give it her true total attention. I am better at that now. I don't race around trying to accomplish five things at once. Recently, I was walking to do an errand. I reminded myself to focus on walking and realized I had been walking very briskly, a holiday to-do list in my head, eyes down on the sidewalk. Once I reminded myself, I automatically started breathing more deeply, I lifted my head, looked at the sky and trees, heard nature's sounds, felt cold winter air against my face and let a good energy wash over me that I wanted to share, if only through eye contact and a smile exchanged with a passerby. It made all the difference that day, and - just maybe - every day after.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Did you know?

Interesting facts about paper, gleaned from all over the internet.

* Paper fibers can be recycled up to seven times before the fibers become ‘strained out’.
* Americans discard 4 million tons of office paper every year, enough to build a 12 foot-high wall of paper from New York to California
* According to Guinness World Records, the largest sheet of handmade paper was produced by Masaki Takahashi and Kazuki Maeda in Toyama, Japan on August 19, 2009. It measured 45 feet 7 inches x 22 feet 7 inches.
* Paper was invented by the Chinese around 105 A.D.
* Paper bags were first measured by how many pounds of sugar they held. 

* Every day, U.S. papermakers recycle enough paper to fill a 15 mile long train of boxcars. (I wonder if handmade papermakers are included in these stats!)
* Many of the UK-based paper mills have closed due to the reduction in global demand and today there are more pubs in the UK called the Paper Mill than actual working mills.
* In the last 20 years, the combined usage of today's top ten paper users has increased from 92 million tons to 208 million, which is a growth of 126%. So the use of computers is not slowing the amount paper we use. Yikes!

Here's a picture of a yummy pile of my handmade papers, just for the fun of it!

Monday, December 15, 2014

There's no man like a snowman

I can't get enough of snowmen lately. I just think they are so dang cute! I started making plantable paper snowmen with colorful scarves, made from leftover scraps around my studio:

Then, for a more artisan feel, I expanded the line, making their scarves in neutrals, from paper scraps that were created from natural fibers, plants, etc:

I was having such a fun time making them, I decided to expand the snowman brand again. Here are my latest little guys, snowmen with mustaches.

And now, just for the fun of it, a little snowman humor to brighten your day:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Every Fiber of Its Being

This is a great article about making paper, so well-said in a simple manner that I couldn't explain it any better. All credit goes to The Fiber Wire, where it was originally published:

Paper – Every Fiber of Its Being

Paper is a composite of fiber and air. Cellulosic fibers come from plants, either from seed hairs, stems (bast), and/or from leaves. In industrial papermaking, cellulose comes primarily from wood, both hardwoods and softwoods. The fibers are liberated from the plant structure, then pulped and refined to swell the fibers, reduce and remove lignin, and free up cellulose and hemicellulose. Surface area and fiber flexibility are also increased during refining. All of these things lead to increased interfiber bonding which is what paper is all about! Once the fibers are pulped, they are suspended in water where they meet and overlap.

Magnification 300x Overlapping fibers suspended in water

Water is removed from the fibers through dewatering and drying and the overlapping fibers form hydrogen bonds where possible. As more water is removed, the bonds between fibers grow increasingly stronger. This requires no adhesive; the bond is all-natural.

Magnification 1500x
Numerous fibers come together at one place within a paper sheet forming a massive bonded area

Paper is an engineered material, composed of several layers of individual fibers bonded together. The properties of the finished paper depend on changing variables, one of which is fiber source. For example, paper strength is a direct result of fiber length and the strength and number of interfiber bonds. Softwood fibers are longer than hardwood fibers so their addition to a paper furnish adds strength. Fiber length, fiber strength, the chemical nature of the fiber surface, coarseness and flexibility are all things that differ between fibers from different sources.

Magnification 300x
View of the surface and edge of a piece of paper. Both surface and edge are made up of individual fibers. The more layers, the thicker the sheet

The natural bonds that hold cellulose-based paper together can be destroyed with the addition of water. This is how fibers are recycled from paper products and how they are reclaimed from textile products (e.g. cotton and linen rags). Just as the bonds strengthen when water is removed in the papermaking process, they are weakened when water is added. At that point the fibers can be suspended in water and rearranged to make new paper.

The pictures in this post (copyright Arnold Grummer 2014) were originally featured in Tin Can Papermaking: Recycle for Earth and Art, by Arnold Grummer. Check out the other great books and tools for handpapermaking on the Arnold Grummer website.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Today is 12/13/14 !!

"For most of us, such sequential calendar dates won't occur again in our lifetime," according to Aziz Inan, an engineering professor at the University of Portland who specializes in the calendar's mathematical marvels. "After December 13, 2014, the next one is 01-02-03, to occur on January 2, 2103."

Go do something special!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Flow chart

My whole professional life can be summed up in this one flow chart graphic.

(Is that pathetic or really neat?!)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thank you Tina, Heidi, Lisa, Randy, Tracy and Joe!

I love all the people who work for my local post office. The mail carriers who come to my home — Joe and Tina — are so lovely. But the people I know best are Heidi and Tracy (and Randy and Lisa on the weekends), the keepers of the windows at my local USPS branch. Since I see them every single day, we have built up a relationship over the years. They see me coming and grab the scanning gun before I even get up to the window. They willingly dip into their stash of padded bubble mailers from behind the counter (for some reason they are never put out in the lobby with the other free boxes), have covered postage for me when I was short, and have helped me locate packages a few times when things have gone awry. Love them!

About a year ago, I was listening to NPR. I heard a story about - what was it called? - informal communities. I think. Maybe not. But something like that. Anyway, the story was about how important relationships like these are in our lives. Informal community relationships form an important sense of community and belonging in our loves. These people aren't my friends exactly. Not co-workers either. They don't know when my birthday is or who my family members are. They don't share their favorite recipes with me and we have never gone out for lunch to catch up. But they are regulars in my life, they notice when I have been missing and they interact with me on a deeper level than a stranger behind a counter. (If I ever remember the name of the NPR story and find the link, I will post it here.)

I am really thankful for the USPS people in my life. Not only because they get all my packages to my customers but also because they make up this informal community and give me a sense of home and belonging.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

An entry a day keeps the boredom away

A funny thing happened about a month ago. I challenged myself to write a blog entry every day for one month. There was a period of time when I hadn’t written anything in my blog for about 2 years. Because I enjoy other people’s blogs, I thought it would be worth a try to really commit to do it. I linked the blog to my Etsy shop to be accountable to myself and to those people curious enough to follow the link. I hoped to be witty, informative, wise... I found out it's really hard to write a blog and to come up with something substantial to post every day. It's also challenging to have a narrow subject matter about which to write (handmade paper and other artistic pursuits).

But here's a funny thing that happened. I expected to write for a month, possibly limp to the finish line, and then sink back into the weekly posts I had been doing before. I didn’t expect how much daily blog posting would motivate me. Writing a post, researching a topic or creating something interesting for others is rewarding. When I finish a post, I feel like I accomplished something. It has inspired me and lighted a different kind of creative energy into everything I do. Ideas for posts seem to be constant and flowing easily now and I see inspiration in everything.

As Dana Mitchells writes, "[Daily writing] boosts your creativity. After writing every day for a week or two, you will find your creativity beginning to flourish. Ideas will pop up from out of nowhere. Anything from a newspaper article to a picture will inspire you. Your creative self will feel more comfortable in being allowed to churn out any idea, no matter how small or obscure. Exercising your creative muscle will allow it to be stronger than ever before."

Daily writing HAS boosted my creativity. It has given me motivation to attempt new things, research thoughts and ideas further for posts and dive into new projects around the house and in my life. So, I am excited to continue. AND I love the little spikes I have seen in readership, which fuels me even more. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I can write, right?

Many of my customers contact me asking me if they can write on my plantable papers. The answer is simple: YES! One side of the paper is bumpy with seeds but the opposite side, where the paper is pressed against a screen when it is being made, is smoother for writing. But I decided to write this post to explain why you can, what the pitfalls are and show examples of different kinds of ink since I can't know what you will be using on your handmade paper.

The pitfalls: Unfortunately, my plantable paper can't go through a printer. I know that a couple of my customers have successfully printed on my papers but I haven't. I have a very old printer that is fussy. But even if it were not, my papers have some very chunky seeds in them that not only would catch in a printer and rip the paper but might also do a lot worse to your printer. So I don't recommend it.

The reason you can write on my papers is because I recycle paper that was initially manufactured to allow for writing, like card stocks, junk mail, etc. That means that when the paper was made, an internal sizing was added to the slurry (or paper pulp). Sizing is used to improve the strength, stiffness, smoothness or weight of a paper or to control its absorbency. In other words, it seals the paper so you can write on it without the ink bleeding and feathering.

So I decided to try a little experiment with as many different kinds of inks as I could find. I went down to my local arts supplies store. (Shout out in Soave Faire in Saratoga. They allow customers to try any pen they sell, so I brought a piece of my plantable paper into the store and tried everything! Huzzah!)

For the most part, every ink worked well, which actually surprised me. I tell my customers not to use inks that are overly watery, like calligraphy ink, but I had decent success with the Varsity Disposable Fountain Pen (the purple ink on the largest piece of paper). It worked well when I wrote quickly but did bleed into thick lines when I wrote the word "pen" very slowly. The Buffalo marker was a thick marker (the light blue ink on large piece of paper), like one a child would use. I didn't like that one, probably because it doesn't have enough ink to transfer well - perhaps because it is intended for coloring. The only hiccup was from the calligraphy pen (red ink on large piece of paper) because I hit a big seed in the paper that had caused a divot. I even had success with an erasable gel pen as well as a pencil.

I hope that is helpful! To get back to my Etsy shop, go here:

Want to know about sizing in a more scientific analysis? Here you go:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Flower seed paper doves with envelopes - NEW ITEM!

I was so excited to acquire these envelopes. I got them from a paper auction so I only have a limited amount. Once they are gone, that's it. I paired them with some plantable paper doves that I already have in my shop and they turned out to be the perfect size. Doves are the symbol of love and peace so use these plantable paper doves for weddings, baptisms, Christmas events or any time you want love and peace to grow.

Purchase them in my Etsy shop here:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Treasury time!

No time to write today. Instead, some pleasing pictures. I am so excited that my plantable paper trees have been featured in several treasuries on Etsy this holiday season. Love the color combinations in all of them!

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Woke up this morning to my 5000th sale on Etsy. Yippy skippy! Yesterday I was scheming all day about putting something on FaceBook or in my banner about free shipping or an extra surprise for my 5000th sale. Then I decided I would't say anything and just refund the cost of the order and give the whole thing for free. So I did. And now I feel like Santa Claus!

I have to admit to being not completely selfless in this transaction. I love the feeling I get back when I have been generous or surprised someone. Is that selfish? Maybe a little!

Here's how my customer responded:

Whhhhhhhaaaatttttt????!!!! That's so awesome!!! Yay for you for selling 5000 items and yay for you for being so generous!! Thank you! What a wonderful surprise! :D

Friday, December 5, 2014


I will never forget the very first outdoor craft show I ever did, some time in the early 1990s. I had not done my research well and chose a pretty lousy show just because it had low fees. It was dead for the first hour or so and then a tour bus rolled up. I stood up straight and put a big smile on my face. A group of senior citizens got out for a bathroom break and a few wandered through and looked at the booths. Two of the women from the group came over and looked at my handmade papers. One of them picked one of my items up, then turned it over with a frown on her face. She turned to the other and said, "I could make this." Then, with what felt like disgust, she tossed it back on the table without ever looking at me. The other woman, hard of hearing, asked what her friend had said. Louder this time, "I COULD MAKE THAT. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY."

You have to have a thick skin when you do a craft show. (Remember my earlier post? "Creativity takes courage.")

Most customers are an absolute joy and I have even formed friendships with customers I met at my booth. But here's a very funny spoof video about what customers say at craft shows. (And it's kinda true!) Enjoy!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

When to say when

I have been saying "no" a lot lately. It is a word I struggle to say, especially as a one-woman business. I take every sale and every request not just as income but as a compliment. Someone has taken the time to find me, read about what I do and like it enough to contact me and ask me to make something special for them. They are not buying a manufactured product, but one that has my heart in it. This is huge. As Henri Matisse is credited for saying, "Creativity takes courage." I am putting myself out in front of the world to see for judgment, rejection, but hopefully acceptance.

While I feel it is a sign of success to come to a time when I have the luxury to say no, it also feels like a tiny failure, like I have let someone down. I have turned down several very large custom orders recently because taking them would have meant endless hours of extra work, the stress of an immediate deadline and time away other things that are important to me.

A charitable organization asked for 1000 rainbow seed bombs that would be given out at their fund-raising event. While it takes a long time to roll each little ball of pulp by hand, it also takes a lot of space to dry them. I figured I would need to make more than 200 every day to get the order out in time, and that was assuming they all dried quickly. But I would have to put aside other pending custom orders that had tight deadlines (as well as canceling several really fun events in my personal life), so I had to say no.

A church contacted me needing 400 white doves for an event about a week before their deadline. Add in the time it takes to ship and it would mean no sleep during a very busy time of year.

A bride had been looking for something special for her wedding and didn't find me until the very last minute, which was yesterday. I love making items for weddings, especially when the bride and groom want something different from the products I ordinarily make. (As a matter of fact, some of my best-selling products have come from ideas that customers gave me!) But to meet her deadline, I would have had to compromise my quality for an event that is too important for goofs. Another no.

So I am feeling ambivalent and relieved all at once.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

This is where I belong

Breaking out the Christmas boxes today. Psyched that everything made it through a year of massive house renovations, dust, misplaced boxes, etc., especially this little snowman. I made him out of a gourd that I painted and decorated with wood-burning tools and other pieces from other gourds. I love this little guy.

Opening up my ornament boxes is always a walk down memory lane, since every ornament has a story. I have a bunch of ornaments made in India that were given to my family when I was a little girl. My father had helped an Indian family and never charged them for his services because they were new to this country and had very little money. As a thank you, they gave us ornaments that are covered in little pieces of mirrors, beads and colorful designs. They remind me of my father's generosity of spirit.

When I got my first apartment and wanted to decorate a tree but didn't have enough money to buy ornaments, my best friend and I used a hot glue gun to attach loops to anything we could find that could be hung on a tree. I still have one of those ornaments. It is a one-armed skeleton that had once been a pair of skeleton earrings. (We purchased them for next to nothing because one of the skeletons had only one arm. My friend ripped the arm off the other skeleton so that we were even and then we each took one and incorporated it into a Halloween costume.) Makes me laugh every year and think of her.

And, of course, there are many, many handmade and homemade ornaments: felted ornaments, ones made from clothespins, beads and wire, and Play-doh.

I look at my tree and see a living history of my family and my life. We have a tradition of cutting down our own Christmas tree. When we get it home, I snip a little piece of a branch off, spray it with a preservative, put it in a glass ball ornament and write the year on the outside. I buy an ornament with a name on it for every member of the family (although the family has grown so much in the last couple of years that I am behind for a few nieces and nephews). It feels good to look at the tree and be reminded of who I am, from where I have come and where I belong.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Handmade wedding

Just finished two large wedding orders of tented cards made from plantable paper. There are many steps to make an order for a wedding. First, I gather together all the paper scraps that I will need to make the order, making sure I can make a consistent color all the way through multiple batches. Then, I shred the paper scraps into small pieces so that they can be ground up with water without stressing my blender motor. Next, I make a slurry (aka a big vat of pulp), add wildflower seeds and then "pull" sheets of paper using an ancient technique invented by the Chinese and still used today by hand papermakers. It involves using a wood frame with a screen pulled tightly across (called a mold) and another frame called a deckle (which is where the term "deckle" edge comes from when referring to the feathery edge of handmade paper). For large orders, I have to make several batches of paper and repeat the process over until I have enough sheets of paper.

Once all the paper is made, I let it dry and then cut it down into the size the wedding couple needs, then trim it and fold it. There is a smooth side of every sheet (where the paper was against the screen) that makes a good surface for writing the names of guests, but you can still see all the yummy seeds. A lot of work goes into every order, and I think that handwork shows without the paper looking homemade. Very satisfying!

Monday, December 1, 2014


I very reluctantly started a FaceBook page for my handmade paper business a couple of weeks ago.

I am not a FaceBook person. I have only posted something to my personal FaceBook page twice in the last 6 or 8 months. For me, it is a black hole for my time. It is incredible to see what my best friend from high school is doing and how my college roommate is solving the world's problems in Africa. And that's the problem. I could spend all day on it. I have a friend who recently deleted her account because it was so much of a time suck that she needed to take the temptation out of her life!

Anyway, I am not sure what customers might like to see, but I will try to show behind-the-scenes things about my life as an artist and a papermaker, and hopefully inspire your creativity. So, as they, "Follow me!"