The Fiber Wire

Plugged in and turned on. All paper. All the time.

Making Paper for the MCBA Winterbook

Summer is great in Minneapolis. There are flea markets, concerts, outdoor films and art festivals, restaurants galore and miles upon miles of bike trails to help you get around. Despite all of these seasonal delights, I had winter on the brain while I helped make the paper for the Minnesota Center for Book Arts 2013 Winterbook.

The Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) cultivates and promotes the appreciation, scholarship craft surrounding book culture. The annual Winterbook project began in 1988 to promote the traditional crafts of bookmaking. Each Winterbook is a limited edition artist’s book featuring poetry or prose from a Minnesota author and is a collaboration between designers, printmakers, papermakers, bookbinders, artists and community volunteers.

The 2013 Winterbook Project was a special partnership between MCBA and the publisher Milkweed editions. When I showed up for the first day of papermaking I learned that the 2013 Winterbook author was Robin Wall Kimmerer, one of my favorite professors at SUNY-ESF. She is a botanist and plant ecologist and the 2013 Winterbook has four selections from her most recent book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants.

The four selections are bound into separate booklets and each booklet has a handmade paper cover. Jeff Rathermel, the director of MCBA, created the furnish combining four papermaking fibers which we then dyed four different colors for the different covers.

paper sam copy

Choosing the Colors

Each vat of colored pulp became hundreds of sheets of paper. The standard edition has 200 copies with four booklets each so we had to make enough paper for 800 covers! Jeff, Monica Edwards Larson (the master printer involved in the project), myself and the other interns worked 8-10 hour days for two weeks completing this project. I learned how involved production papermaking is and how time-consuming each step of the process can. Pulping, dyeing, sheet formation, sheet drying and felt cleaning. Lots of felt cleaning!

Pulp Vat. Looks like Pea Soup!

Pulp Vat. Looks like Pea Soup!


Head over to the MCBA 2013 Winterbook site to read more about the project see the finished product!

2 comments on “Making Paper for the MCBA Winterbook

  1. CelesteRegal
    April 23, 2014

    Hi Genevieve, I’ll be going to a talk that a prof who works with medicinal plants next week. Your post made me consider whether they would lend themselves to papermaking. I made phragmites paper last summer but adding abaca to give it backbone. It is still fragrant. Worked well in my thesis projects. I can’t believe I spent 10 years in Minneapolis and never got over to MCBA. (An architecture degree is all consuming). BTW did you see addendum to the paper mill?


  2. thefiberwire
    April 24, 2014

    There must be medicinal plants that also lend themselves to papermaking. I saw that you’ve posted about the phragmites paper. It’s on my reading list. Sorry that I’m just getting back to your posts -it’s finals week! Maybe you go back to Minneapolis from time to time? A stop in at MCBA could be part of a nice afternoon!


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This entry was posted on April 23, 2014 by in Paper Art and tagged , , , .
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