Due to the number of art and graphic design classes I teach as a lecturer at Mississippi State University, I do not have a lot of time to produce paper art and freelance as I’d like to. When a gift-giving event comes up, I tend to take advantage of that time to practice my craft. I love doing to produce a natural look using plant inclusions– blending up flower petals, grass, and leaves in with the pulp. I also have been experimenting with ways to apply imagery to the paper. (Excuse my photography. I need to do better at documenting my gifted art.)
Papermaking with Anya
Organic Papermaking Workshop 1
I had the pleasure of teaching a 14 year old girl named Anandi how to make natural-looking hand-recycled paper a couple weeks ago. She was so sweet and full of creative ideas. Anandi also used a template of Mississippi that I made in graduate school to make Mississippi-shaped paper. Of course we had to mix color pigments together to find the right mix of Mississippi State University MAROON! We had a lot of fun!
Below are photos of the paper she made:
I will be writing blog posts in the coming months to make up for the year that I failed to document due to teaching a packed college class schedule in the fall, and sickness in the spring. It was a challenge to do anything more than what was required of me! I look forward to sharing with the world what my students were capable of accomplishing this past school year.
During Fall 2014, I was contacted by a publisher in China called DesignerBooks about the possibility of being included in a paper arts book. After much emailing back and forth, it became a reality. On July 23, 2015 I received an email that my work was officially included and was sent a copy of the published book a couple months later.
My chosen paper art from undergraduate and graduate school was featured in four full spreads with detailed descriptions of my idea and creation process.
It is a beautifully designed book, and I am proud to be included with many of my paper art heroes throughout the world.
Title: Paradise of Paper Art 2: The World of Dance Paper
Dimensions: 1.4 x 8.3 x 11.2 inches
Color: four-color printing
Paper: Matte paper
Shipping Weight: 2.3kg (5.1 pounds)
At the moment, it’s available on the Australian book website Booktopia and other Chinese vendors, including DesignerBooks.
All of these projects are featured on my portfolio website, brittanyspencer.com.
It’s amazing how the Internet makes our world so much smaller and offers connections we would not make otherwise. I’m grateful that a DesignerBooks representative found my website and offered me this opportunity!
Summer 2016 Papermaking Workshops for Kids & Teens
I haven’t posted any updates in too long. I intend to change that this summer.
I have great news! I am teaching papermaking workshops for kids and teens ages 7–14 in Starkville, MS this summer. Class size is limited, so pre-register soon to be sure to snag a seat! Each workshop is a 3-day event from 9:00 am–noon, costing each student $100. All materials will be supplied.
Students are encouraged to wear “paint clothes” as these activities can be a little messy! Parents and guardians are also welcome to attend, but are not required.
To give you an idea of what to expect, here’s a video featuring my little buddy Shivank making his first sheet of hand-recycled paper under my instruction.
And now for the dates and workshop projects:
The next workshop is an event for kids and teens that love Christmas so much, that they would enjoy creating tree ornaments in July! I taught this workshop over 2 years ago while in graduate school and it was a big hit. Visit the old blog post to see those kids at work: https://brittanyspencer.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/kids-paper-pulp-ornaments-workshop-photos/.
I will also have copies of my self-published children’s book A Girl Finds a Flower featuring my hand-recycled paper illustrations for sale at the workshops for $20. They are also for sale online at Lulu.com and Amazon.com.
I hope you can join me to create fun, exciting art! Please contact me to pre-register at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MSU Summer Arts Camp 2015
Hello world! It has been awhile since I have documented my art and teaching experience on the web. You last heard from me in May as I was wrapping up the spring semester. Summer brought new experiences, visiting friends and family, making new discoveries to improve my health, lots of gluten free cooking, and REST. I also finished buying the supplies I needed to convert my apartment dining room and back porch into a papermaking studio! I will share in future blog posts how I’ve been using my home studio, what my students are doing this fall semester, and more exciting news.
Between June 5th-12th, I volunteered to lead three workshops for Mississippi State University’s art camp for high school students. The camp has been an annual event for three years now for students that are 16-years-old through incoming college freshman. I taught a recycled papermaking workshop, and beginner workshops about Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Students also learned about photography, graphic design, drawing, ceramics, and sculpting processes from other MSU faculty.
What is great about this event? Young students get to have a hands-on experience with all types of mediums and processes, and decide if art and design has a part in their college future!
Below are examples of what students produced in my workshops, lasting a couple hours each:
Students constructed and stylized an animal of their choice in the Adobe software.
Students’ goal was to design a non-objective, abstract composition that creates space and interest. They needed to experiment to consider color and value as they worked in the Adobe software.
Each student had the opportunity to make at least two sheets of hand-recycled paper with the supplied paper, leaves, flowers, grass, and dyes to their creative liking.
If you know a high school student that has an interest in art, I hope you will share this opportunity with them so they can attend next summer!
More to come….
Featured by Elsa Mora
I need to get in the hang of promoting my work, so I emailed my paper images to some of my paper artist heroes– Helen Hiebert, Denise Fleming, Elsa Mora, and Rob Ryan‘s personal assistant. They all responded and were so kind! I feel a little star-struck right now. You should click on their names and see the fantastic things they do.
On June 23rd, Elsa was kind enough to feature my Cloud Gazing installation on her paper blog All About Papercutting and Facebook! She even shared that it was for sale. (No offers received yet!) Seeing that 132 strangers “liked” the post, and 13 “shared” the link on Facebook just blew this young artist’s mind. Many thanks to Elsa for promoting my work!
Return to Organic Paper
This post is about a month late, but I have been busy transitioning into post-graduate school life. I now have an apartment in Starkville, MS, and will begin teaching at Mississippi State University this August. Sadly, all my papermaking supplies are put away in a storage unit, and I am missing the process so much that my heart aches! So I am currently on the hunt for a space to rent in Starkville to get my creativity going again. If anybody can give me any tips, please email me at email@example.com.
As going-away gifts to some friends and professors at Louisiana Tech University, I made sheets of hand-recycled paper. I had not made organic sheets in so long. The idea of gathering flowers, grass, and leaves, and letting them drop as they pleased into the pulp sounded very therapeutic to me, especially after a year of making paper art that HAD to be a certain color and form. Instead of bold pigment colors, I let the scrap paper determine the color, or added colored tissue paper to bleed into the pulp.
I also made some sheets to be laser-cut for a wedding gift….
…and Mother’s Day gifts a couple weeks earlier.
There are so many possibilities with paper. I love it!
My MFA Thesis Show
I am proud to present my MFA Thesis Show body of work entitled Play. You may click on the images to view them at a larger size.
We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more. –Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, speaking of the Neverland
My work is inspired by the joyful feelings that come from an awe-filled outlook on the world that a child understands and naturally possesses. There is a beauty within such memories, and those experiences are still there to rediscover and savor today. Remember to never forget the rush of flying toward the sky with the help of a swing-set, hiding from monsters underneath bed-sheet forts, that pets are the greatest secretkeepers, and that lightning bugs are fairies in disguise. Today’s culture focuses so much on what a child should learn from adults. My art focuses on the opposite: What can adults relearn from children to better enjoy our daily lives? What magical and fun occurrences are overlooked in this busy, straight-forward world?
To construct my illustrative pieces, hand-recylced paper is transformed into twodimensional and three-dimensional creations. My work translated through this medium feels profoundly appropriate, as many children first express themselves through art by manipulating a sheet of paper. And like this sheet of paper, childhood is fragile and full of possibilities. The art of papermaking is a messy, tactile process, and calls to mind memories of mud pies and sand castles. To achieve a variety of forms, contemporary methods are utilized such as laser cutting and etching. My intent is for the audience to experience a sense of wonder upon viewing my work, and realize life can once again be a grand adventure.
On the front wall of the gallery, awesome cyanotype portraits by Jaime Johnson were hung of the MFA candidates in the show.
Business cards and artist statements:
“Cloud Gazing” installation made with hand-recycled paper. This was inspired by my memories of looking at the white, puffy clouds in the sky as a child and imagining shapes and figures. I had a lot of help making these casted paper forms, as documented in my earlier blog posts.
Laser cut original typography on hand-recycled paper:
Laser cut hand-recycled paper leaves:
My gallery area:
Many thanks to Matthew Ramsaur and Jaime Johnson for the awesome photos! I will have my portfolio website brittanyspencer.com updated with new imagery soon. I am now looking forward to graduation at Louisiana Tech University in a couple weeks! Three years of study, research, and art-making has paid off. Please click to check out my friends’ work who were also in the show:
Jaime Johnson, photography
Peter Hay, painting and printmaking
Casey Parkinson, ceramics
Matthew Knopps, sculpture
MC Davis, painting
Jake Dugard, screen-printing
Cloud Gazing Installation Progress Photos
I received so much help casting paper balls. It seemed like a never-ending endeavor!
All this hard work was to build my cloud installation entitled Cloud Gazing. As a child I remember staring at the white, puffy clouds in the sky and making out shapes and figures using my imagination. This memory was the inspiration for this installation.
Posted below are progress photos that were taken along the way. So much junk white paper was used to create all the components. I even took the time to tear off any ink that was on these sheets of paper to avoid any discoloration of the clouds. Gorilla glue and hot glue held the pieces together. Various buckets and containers were used as moulds for some forms. Styrofoam, cardboard, packing tape, and aluminum tubing were also used for certain figures. Pulp was pressed over glue seams to conceal them.
I spent the most time on the castle cloud. I envisioned it to be a very large cloud to hang from the ceiling.
At this point, the cloud was too big to proceed working on it in my studio. I took it to the campus workshop, flipped it over, and suspended it on wooden sticks to continue adding half-spheres to the bottom. But to my dismay, it was an extremely humid, rainy weekend. The wet areas of the castle cloud continued to spread to dry areas. Some friends and I tried to pick it up carefully and move it into another room, but then….….it fell APART! I was completely heartbroken. So much time, effort, and materials went down the drain. Fortunately, the top half of the castle was salvageable.
The next day, I got back to work to recreate a new castle cloud. This new version was so much sturdier based on my previous experience. Due to my time constraints in finishing this cloud, the photo below is the only in-progress photo I have of my new-and-improved castle cloud. It ended up not being as large, but I found it more aesthetically pleasing.
I wanted this component to be really whimsical. It ended up as a floor piece. A lot of styrofoam was used for the head and tentacles.
My first VHS tape when I was a toddler was The Little Mermaid. I was OBSESSED. I watched it way too much on a daily basis. The little girl in me had to have a mermaid tail component. A lot of styrofoam was used for it, as well. It also became a floor piece.
I used the side of a ruler to press fish scale lines into the body of the tail.
For the guys, I decided to make an airplane cloud. I found a styrofoam airplane flyer in the toy aisle, and it was the perfect size.
I wanted a scary component to mix things up. I intended it to be a lion, but I’ve also heard it called a bear and a monster, which is totally cool! That’s how cloud gazing works, right? To start it off, I had to create a pretty complex mould for the face. An Iron Man mask was a fantastic base. Then I used styrofoam and duct tape to make it more lion-like. I envisioned for the head to turn into the edge of a cloud.
The half-sphere paper casts were hot glued together, and Great Stuff insulation spray was used to fill in the gaps. Pulp was eventually applied to cover up the foam. These were to hang directly on the wall.
My next post will be photos of the final installation and the rest of my work in the MFA thesis show!