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Papermaking at Margaret Rhein’s Terrapin Paper Mill

I have a growing interest in handmade paper. I have always loved the quality of Twinrocker paper (hand made in Indiana).

During my artist residency in Oaxaca, Mexico, I was introduced to a community of papermakers, and I used their paper for my artwork. Recently, a friend introduced me to Dard Hunter III, who lives nearby in Chillocothe, OH. His grandfather is considered one of the world’s authorities on the art of making paper…he LITERALLY wrote the book about papermaking (thanks again, Linda, for the introduction!)

In my studio, I use 100% cotton rag to frame my artwork, and I throw a lot of it away as part of the process. I thought it would be great to recycle the cotton into paper. I shared this idea with my friend, Margaret Rhein, at the Tiger Lily Press’ recent print sale. I was excited when she invited me to visit her studio to see some of her process.


Born In The USA by Margaret Rhein


Margaret Rhein is is an encyclopedia of papermaking knowledge. She has studied and made handmade paper at Cincinnati’s Terrapin Paper Mill for 40 years. I’m drawn to her work for the way she combines art and craft to make expressive images using paper.

Visit her website for more examples of her work, and resume of accomplishments.
Most of my attention was spent trying to soak up all the information she was sharing with me, but I did get a chance to take a few photos.
She taught me a technique for preparing pulp using inexpensive tools (like a household blender),

blending paper into pulp




…and then how to make sheets of paper from the pulp.


And also how to include objects into the paper for texture and decoration.



Thanks again, Margaret for giving me the peek into your studio, and getting me started with papermaking. With your help, I’ll have some new handmade paper to show off soon.

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my new van!

animation of me driving my van through the hills
More than 2 years have passed since my minivan went to the highway in the sky. Yesterday, I finally bought a new one!

A big thanks to my mechanic, Joe Manley for finding it, and putting it together for me. Now I can party like it’s 1997! I’m already thinking of my next road trip/art project. stay tuned!

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i am going to start writing with more emoji

Digital culture is replacing words with emojis, and I am fascinated with it! As a visual artist, I know the power of using symbols to communicate, and how they give us nonverbal ways to express our ideas and share our experiences.

I have been reading about the design and history of emojis and icons, and have learned that visual language isn’t as new as I originally thought. My studies reminded me of cave paintings, the Egyptians, Native Americans, Asians and many other cultures who have used picture based language for thousands of years. Even in recent times, we regularly use symbols for bathroom 🚻, danger⚠️, navigation↪️🚸, operating machinery⛔️, and so forth. An advantage of visual language is that it can transcend other languages. If you have ever visited a country where you don’t know the language, there is no doubt that icons helped you understand important information.

snow falling on cabinTo practice this idea, I have started to create my own icons/emojis to tell you all a little bit about my week. This is what the weather was like in Old Washington.

In my personal life, I have been taking a 7-day break from Facebook every month (which freed up a lot of time for studio work and exploring the world of emojis). I thought this symbol was a good way to represent that experience:

animated hand turning off cellphoneIt’s interesting how, nowadays, adult coloring books have become bestsellers and Bob Dylan recently won the Pulitzer Prize for literature. (For the record: i think both adult coloring books and Bob Dylan are great!). As our language continues to evolve, maybe in the future, a visual artist can win a the Pulitzer Prize for a work of art written in emoji?

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Day of Epiphany

3 kings block print by Ken swinson

Last year, while I was in Oaxaca, Mexico, I learned about ‘el Día de los Reyes Magos’. It is also known as ‘The Feast of the Epihpany’ which is when the 3 kings visited baby Jesus — to give him gifts. The Oaxaquenos celebrate by eating a round, donut shaped cake. Somewhere inside the cake is a small figurine of baby Jesus. Whoever finds the figurine in their piece of cake, gets to host a part for their family/friends later a few weeks later. In many parts of the world, many children get excited because IT IS THE HOLIDAY WHEN THEY RECEIVE PRESENTS!

For those of you who celebrate: “Feliz día de los Reyes Magos”!