This year many of us have been relying on Zoom and other digital platforms to participate in the arts community.
One of my recent experiences has been to participate 'virtually' in an international papermaking workshop.
The workshop is being supported by the National Taiwan Craft Research Institute with workshop tutor Amy Richard from the USA.
The workshop has been offered to artists to develop skills in working with kozo fibre, challenging and inspiring them to translate their fibre into creative art works, which hopefully will be exhibited in the International Paper Fibre Art Biennial Exhibition Kozo Contemporary exhibition in 2021. I'm one of 14 artists selected to participate, from countries such as Taiwan, United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, and USA.
Its an interesting format, with face-to-face discussions via Google Meet as well as course content delivered via slide shows and pre-recorded videos. Sorting out the different time zones for everyone to meet up was interesting!
The kozo fibre is sourced from the Paper Mulberry plant. This is an introduced weed species in Australia, so my first challenge was to find a reliable source in my home town of Brisbane. I did a lot of online research using databases such as the Living Atlas of Australia (www.ala.org.au) as well as reaching out to local conservation groups. I personally visited at least six sites without any luck in finding the plant, but after some intense focused bush-bashing and creek rock-hopping, I found what I needed to be able to collect enough fibre.
Kozo is a beautiful fibre, used in countries such as Korea and Japan for papermaking, and its made using the inner bast of the branches of the Paper Mulberry.
As I've worked my way through the online modules of the workshop, I've learnt how to steam, strip, and clean the fibres. The next step is the cooking and hand beating, then finally onto forming sheets - this will feature in a future blog post.
Below are some photographs of my progress so far -
|Jackpot! I found what I was looking for.|
|Collected branches - ready to steam,|
then I strip the bark off.
|The kozo fibre, ready for cooking.|