Visit to Claire Maziarczyk’s Studio
This past Sunday, I had the good fortune of making a return trip to paste paper artisan Claire Maziarczyk‘s studio. My last visit was nearly ten years ago! Claire posted on the Book Arts Listserv that she was downsizing and was looking to sell not only her fabulous paste papers, but also supplies and equipment.
I made the journey with a few of my Book Arts Guild of Vermont cohorts so the trip didn’t seem as long as the 3.5+ hours it took for us to get there. Claire fed us lunch, which was awesome and extremely generous. By the end of our meal, I was itching to get downstairs to her studio to start the paper shopping.
To select which of her papers you like best must be like choosing your favorite child. I wanted all the things. It seemed wrong to leave any design behind, but I had a budget. Poop.
Here’s the pile of papers that made the final cut (it was a paper cut, so painful):
Let’s visit with them, shall we? Here are my paste paper purchases:
Claire once worked as a representative for the Japanese Paper Place and carried an inventory of their papers. After they both parted ways, the inventory remained. Lucky me! Here are my paper purchases from that gold mine:
There was a sign by the paper on the left that labeled it as Kirogami, a hand-printed paper with a small design.
The paper on the right was double couched (two layers) – first a watermarked red sheet is made, then that sheet is couched on top of a white sheet. I have no idea what the text says. One day I’ll go over the whole sheet with Google Translate to satisfy my curiosity. It’s probably a grocery list.
The paper in the middle was also double couched and has a wonderful reflective quality (it’s stunning in person). Here’s a close up shot:
I’m fairly certain that this paper is from Echizen, Japan, a papermaking village I visited 2.5 years ago. The technique used is known as hikkake, which means “to catch” or “to snag”. A metal screen is used to capture fibers that eventually create the pattern in the finished product. You can see an example of the screen on the Echizen Washi website.
My last purchase was serendipitous – I wasn’t looking for small sheets, but this pad of paper somehow caught my eye. The back of the pad was marked as Chigiri-e paper. I opened it up and encountered a gorgeous batch of 25 papers.
Oh, the Shiboris!
These appear to be a variation of Unryu I’ve never seen before:
So back to the Chigiri-e. I had no idea what it was, so I looked it up. This collage-based art form originated during the Heian period, the last division of classical Japanese history, taking place from 794 to 1185 (thanks Wikipedia). Handmade paper was the primary material used for these collages and pieces often incorporated calligraphy.
I now understand why this pad has 25 different kinds of paper in it – it’s kinda like a box of crayons, but with paper.
Claire showed us how to use her wood graining tool and then let us play with it. I probably could have left more open space between those knot holes. This is why it’s best to leave this work to the professionals.
After emptying our wallets, it was time to return home. We made it most of the way without incident until the weather. Oh geez, it was bad. The roads were icy and we were slipping around, which freaked me out. We decided to leave the interstate and take local roads in hopes of avoiding speed demons.
Unfortunately, this didn’t help us avoid other problems. We ended up getting stuck behind a car that couldn’t make it up a hill either because they didn’t have enough momentum and/or didn’t have the right tires on their car. Oh, and I really had to pee.
Long story short (and it’s a long story), it took 2.5+ hours for us to get moving again. Let’s hear it for Vermont’s emergency crews! Seriously though, the whole thing was terrifying. I’m so thankful for my companions, Judy and Becky, who kept me focused and calm. As much as I can ever be calm.
Claire told me that I should come back again with more people. If I do go back, it sure as hell won’t be during the winter!