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.

Yupo, Mylar, Acetate — what constitutes “Paper”?

Every once in a while, I receive questions from interested artists and craftspersons about paper. The following is one that I truly enjoyed answering.

I am writing to you to ask for an opinion. I belong to an organization of artists who all work on or with paper. At a recent meeting the question was raised whether Yupo, Mylar, acetate, Tyvek, and similar synthetic substrates would be accepted by our group as forms of paper. This led to a very lively discussion and opinions were all over the place.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you know of any consensus within the art/museum world?

Here’s my answer:

Many people will consider almost any 2-dimensional substrate to be “paper,” but from a purist perspective, true paper is formed from cellulose that has been beaten, dispersed in water, and then is reformed on a mould surface. We’re not picky about the surface that this new mat of cellulose fibers has been formed on, but simply that they are cellulose, they have been broken apart (generally very finely), and then reformed.
Materials like papyrus, or even amate (a beautiful substrate originating in Mexico), is what we refer to as proto-paper. This term indicates that the original cellulose structure was never broken apart entirely. With papyrus and amate, the plant is prepared by cooking or retting, and then strips of the plant fiber are simply overlapped and pounded or pressed together to form new hydrogen bonds in the cellulose, which create the single sheet. This sheet is more fragile and less flexible than a true paper.

People will also ask if making a mat of wool, hair, or silk can be considered a paper, however, anything with a protein base is felt, and is not paper.
Likewise, Yupo, Tyvek, mylar, acetate are all synethtic as you point out and petroleum-based. Therefore, not true paper. These materials certainly have their uses, even within bookmaking (and I really enjoy using them for certain projects) but I will always make a point of including those specific materials in the description of an artwork, i.e. watercolor on yupo; OR ink on handmade paper and Tyvek.

As for art world / museum consensus, my above definitions are accepted or acknowledged, but in many cases a watercolor painting on yupo will be considered for an exhibition of works on paper. This decision can depend largely on the juror or curator, whether they are a purist, an inclusionist, or simply interested in the image regardless of the substrate, so long as it’s 2-dimensional.

As for IAPMA, we tend to be purists, and we promote the use and inclusion of paper in artworks, in particular of handmade paper.

Although it still may not settle the argument, I hope this answers your question!

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


I know I mentioned that spring was a busy time in the studio, so now that two projects have wrapped up, I finally have time to blog about some of the cool stuff I was working on.
Back in September last year while I was vending at Philalalia, I began talking with book artist Susan Viguers, who was looking for a handmade paper to use in her upcoming project “The Opossum: A Specimen Book”. She wanted a tough, creamy, and somewhat crisp paper to use for her limp vellum binding. We ended up going with a 3-hr abaca, felt dried, and I have to say the sheets look mighty handsome with that crisp letterpress printing. It’s a beautiful book!

You can see more photos of this book, its interior, and other books on Susan Viguers’ website.

And here are some in process shots of the abaca papers.
Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image.
Drying the wet sheets on felts.
Drying the wet sheets on felts.
more sheets drying
more sheets drying
Dried sheets of abaca twist the felts
Dried sheets of abaca twist the felts
a stack of dry abaca sheets before being flattened again
a stack of dry abaca sheets before being flattened again