for me is cathartic. Part of the appeal is that it's very physical—toting
buckets of water, beating large quantities of pulp, hand mixing huge
vats of color…It's wet, messy, and wonderful. I haven't picked
up a brush or a colored pencil since I discovered papermaking.
painting is easy to demonstrate, but difficult to explain. But I’ll
give it a go.
Cotton rag fiber suspended in water (a wet, messy, colorful slurry)
is poured through hand-cut stencils (made from foam meat trays) onto
a screen (a window screen will do). The result—an image in handmade
paper. The paper is the picture. The picture is the paper.
of this technique are many:
• I now have a use for all those discarded yogurt containers
and hair coloring squeeze bottles; they make excellent pouring
cups and drawing tools.
• I’ve developed marvelous upper-body strength, without
the cost of a gym membership, from hauling forty-two pound pails
of damp fiber (pulp) around the studio.
• At the market I’m known for my fashion sense; my
pulp splattered clothing makes quite an impression.
• I’ve discovered that a bucket of pulp is the better
mousetrap (I am withholding the disgusting details).
• Looking for additions to my motley collection of blenders
(used to mix pigment and chemicals) gives me a reason to stop
and shop garage sales.
• Friends have found that the five-gallon pulp shipping
pails make nifty nesting buckets for Rhode Island Reds.
• And, of course, there is the pleasure of swirling my hands
through five gallons of glorious color to mix fiber and pigment.
drawbacks are few:
• Cotton rag fiber spoils, and it is no secret when it does.
Open the doors and windows and turn on the fans!
• Then there is the problem of color test strips catching
fire in the microwave — quite a dramatic touch, but a bit
why pulp painting? It works.
in the March/April 1998 Horn Book Magazine
A Visit with Denise Fleming - An interview and pulp painting demo on YouTube
April 18, 2011
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