Category Archives: Paper Art

coming soon… Print Think 2016!

I am very happy to be joining a number of local PRINT and PAPER colleagues at this year’s Print Think, a one-day conference on printmaking organized by Amze Emmons, held at Tyler School of Art.
Susan Tallman, editor of Art in Print, is the keynote speaker. There will also be a panel discussions, several exhibitions, receptions, and demonstrations.
I will be there demonstrating hand papermaking!

Get the details here:
Print Think 2016
Saturday May 14th
Tyler School of Art


Sculptural Possibilities of Paper

coming Sunday April 10, 2016

High Shrinkage Fibers and Basic Armatures

High shrinkage abaca with wooden and wire armature.

I often say that paper is MAGIC, and if you care to doubt that, high shrinkage abaca and flax are my response to such nay-sayers. It is sculptural, muscular, and exerts a tremendous amount of force as it dries because it shrinks!

shrinkydinkConstructing an armature of wire, wood, or other semi-rigid materials, wet sheets of abaca and flax paper can be stretched and adhered to the armature; the armature can be sandwiched between 2 wet sheets; or the armature can be dipped directly into the high shrinkage pulp. The result is a sculptural armature bound by the taut paper which shrinks as it dries, and I’m not talking a uniform shrinking like Shrinky Dinks, I’m talking about radical and sometimes unpredictable transformation!

In this one-day workshop, we will use high-shrinkage flax and abaca fibers for sheetforming as well as stretching over basic armatures. When working with these pulps, students can make extremely thin, strong, and translucent sheets of paper, ideally suited for embedding 2-dimensional imagery. These pulps are also prized for their ability to create a taut, smooth surface when the paper is applied over an armature. Students will form 2 dimensional sheets of paper and be guided through constructing basic armatures of their own design. All necessary materials will be provided, but students can also bring their own materials to incorporate.

Open to 8 students, $125 REGISTER NOW

Philadelphia Art Book Fair

Friday April 1st & Saturday April 2nd

Join me and The Soapbox Community Print Shop & Zine Library at The Philadelphia Art Book Fair!

Co-presented by The Print Center and Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, we’re going to be at The Annex on Filbert in Center City Philadelphia.
I will be there all day Friday, and Mary Tasillo of The Soapbox will be tabling on Saturday. Come hang out with us, and see all of the amazing work at the Art Book Fair!

WHERE: 830 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
WHEN: Friday April 1st — noon-8pm
               Saturday April 2nd — 10am-6pm

List of details and all vendors:

Handmade Paper in Handmade Books

Bookbinding is becoming a studio priority with the Philadelphia Art Book Fair coming up, as well as a few other projects, so I thought I’d share part of the newest experiment in the studio.

Three of the beautiful handmade papers.
All three of the beautiful handmade papers.

Interior cover of opened book
Interior cover

These little beauties are 5.5″ x 3.5″, and use 3 different kinds of handmade paper. You might be wondering why this book is broken in half, with 2 signatures stacked vertically. The answer is reuse.

Each year, IAPMA (International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists) produces a full-color Bulletin with articles and news, and this year in honor of our 30th anniversary, our Bulletin editor and I trimmed down almost 14,000 swatches of handmade paper to include in the upcoming anniversary edition Bulletin. Trimming papers of varying sizes of course results in paper scraps of various sizes, and it just so happened that we had these lovely accessories after the trimming process! And don’t they make lovely books?

These handbound books will be available in the near future, as a means of raising funds for the continued success of future Bulletins.

On the Horizon at paperTHINKtank

It’s been a busy winter season in the studio, and last week’s Japanese papermaking with Philadelphia KOZO was a blast!
But what’s on the horizon?

    1. March’s workshop is already upon us — March 6 –, and if you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to start with the basics (or just have a good time pulling a lot of Western-style sheets), this is the class for you!
    2. There are 2 more free paper workshops I’m teaching at the Philadelphia Free Library.
    3. Invasive Plants make Paper at Fleisher Art Memorial, March 2nd at 6pm.
    4. Pluto (yes, Pluto the ex-planet and now dwarf planet) was the inspiration for a portfolio of prints organized by Amanda D’Amico. These prints are going to be shown in the VERY near future.
    5. And what about APRIL?


Intro to Western Papermaking — the FUNdamentals

Sunday March 6, 1pm ā€“ 5pm
Open to 8 students, $50, 6 spaces left!

paper.jpgThis is a one-day workshop in the WET studio. Beginning with the mold and deckle, students will learn the basics of Western hand papermaking: the tools and materials used, the properties of various paper pulps, the art of pulling sheets of paper, and embedding objects such as thread, ribbon, found text/images, or natural plant materials in our handmade papers. We will create up to 7 blank sheets of beautiful handmade paper from cotton and abaca fibers, some with inclusions (embedded objects). These papers, once dry, can be used for bookmaking, printmaking, drawing, or they can be finished works of art on their own!

To RESERVE YOUR SPACE, or go here:, and click on REGISTER NOW

All classes take place at paperTHINKtank in Port Richmond.
3240 Collins Street / Phila, PA 19134
Easily accessible on public transit via #5 and #60 buses, or Market-Frankford line.


Get your hands wet for free at the Free Library!

freeLib_Feb2016WHEN: Saturday February 27, 1pm – 3pm
Saturday March 19, 1pm – 3pm
WHERE: 601 W. Lehigh Ave., the gorgeous Lillian Marrero branch
These workshops are open to the public; children and adults welcome. It’s not as intimate of a setting, but you’ll still get to make some paper and experience the fun!


Sanctuary Series: Hand Papermaking from Invasive Plants

at Fleisher Art Memorial, 719 Catharine Street
Wednesday, March 2nd, 6pm

Mary Tasillo and I are co-presenting!
“Since its invention over 2,000 years ago, relatively little has changed in the process of papermaking, but the application has transformed to include not only a writing surface but a versatile artistic medium. Donnelly and Tasillo will discuss their own artistic and collaborative projects incorporating Philadelphia invasives into fine art and street art. Giving historical and contemporary context, the two will also guide participants in making their own sheet of handmade paper.”


The Pluto Print Exchange is coming soon!

The amazing Amanda D’Amico organized this wonderful portfolio exchange and the upcoming exhibition.

My contribution:


“Pluto and Charon in the scopes”, 2015
Cyanotype and suminagashi collage on handmade abaca paper, 9″ x 8″


What about APRIL??

April 1st & 2nd, I will be at the Philadelphia Art Book Fair again, tabling with The Soapbox. Last year was a fantastic event, and I can’t wait to be there this year!

April 11thHigh Shrinkage Fibers & Basic Armatures workshop at paperTHINKtank!! Not to be missed.

As always, feel free to contact me with questions or share this with a friend.

Kozo & Milkweed Harvest is CANCELLED.

I-95 expansion projectI’m really sad to share news that the location where I have been tending a grove of paper mulberry plants for the last three years is now under heavy construction for the I-95 expansion project. PennDoT is digging with heavy machinery and laying massive pipes, which simply makes the area unsafe for a harvest.
Thank you everyone for understanding and for your interest. Iā€™m very sad to cancel this event, but we will persevere for a Kozo Fiber Preparation day on January 10th.

See Classes and Workshops page for more information:

Last Workshops of the 2015 Season

Even though it’s unseasonably warm for November (a whopping 77 degrees today!), we are indeed in late Autumn, and paperTHINKtank only has couple of workshops left in 2015.
I am super excited for these final workshops, and hope you can join me!

Go to Classes & Workshops for more details or to register and save your place.

  • Papermaking with Invasive Plants
    Saturday November 7 – A community day at Chew Recreation Center, FREE
    10:30am – 1:30pm
  • Papermaking for Printmakers
    Sunday November 22 – at paperTHINKtank, $50
    1pm ā€“ 5pm
  • Kozo and Milkweed Harvest
    Sunday December 20 – offsite riverbank location, FREE
    1pm ā€“ 5pm

Philadelphia KOZO harvest begins!

There’s nothing quite like frigid temperatures to remind you that, yes, it is once again time to harvest KOZO in Philadelphia.

What exactly is KOZO, you ask?
Well it’s the Japanese word referring to the Paper Mulberry (broussonetia papyrifera). While Philadelphia already has two varieties of (non)native mulberry — the red and the white — the Paper Mulberry is a distant relative to these trees, is quite invasive, and has claimed broken sidewalks, empty lots and out-of-use industrial sites throughout the city. I’ve spotted it in South Philadelphia, West Philadelphia (notably surrounding Bartram’s Garden, John Bartram being the man who *first* brought the plant to Philadelphia), and as far north as the abandoned piers on the Delaware River.
Yes, the Paper Mulberry grows nearly everywhere, and in winter, once the plant has gone dormant, it’s time to harvest the young branches. This does not kill the plant, and in fact, you can cut the branches down to the base of the plant, and it will regenerate new branches at a suitable size for harvest the following season as well, for 3 to 5 seasons.

While I did not take photographs where I harvested the branches, I do have photographs of the first batch of partially processed fiber.

Pile of steamed kozo fiber on my kitchen counter.
Pile of steamed kozo fiber on my kitchen counter.

These are the cleaned mulberry branches after steaming.
These are the cleaned mulberry branches after steaming.

Steaming the branches is just the first step of many in turning this long, lustrous bast fiber into beautiful paper. So, next steps:
Remove the outer bark; cook the fiber with an alkaline; rinse the fiber; hand beat the fiber using mallets; add the fiber to a vat of water with formation aid, AND START MAKING PAPER!