Nepali Paper Making at Family Art Labs!

Last Saturday Family Programs hosted a Family Art Lab on one of my favorite art-making processes, paper making.  This family workshop provided the perfect opportunity to learn more about the paper making traditions in Nepal and adapt these to art-making that can be done in our studio (or even in your own home!).  It seems that this topic was also quite popular with families, as we had a full group ready to make some paper.

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We began by investigating handmade papers from past workshops as well as looking at traditional Nepalese handmade paper samples.  The kids had fun using their magnifying glasses to take closer looks at the samples, noticing the variety of textures, colors, and fibers.

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We packed up our magnifying glasses and Activity Guides and headed to the Museum for an exploration of the artworks on paper in the exhibitions Masterworks and Flip Side: The Unseen in Tibetan Art.

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We made our first stop on the 3rd floor Masterworks exhibition to view this handmade Nepalese paper from the 1700′s.  Upon looking closely, the kids noticed the worn quality of the paper and its deteriorating edges.  One participant noted that the drawings on the paper looked similar to those on a map.

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We then headed up to the 5th floor to search for paper artworks in the exhibition, Flip Side: The Unseen in Tibetan Art.  I had to take pointers from the kids on how to pose like the figures in the artworks.

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Everyone was eager to get a closer look.

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…Some participants appreciated the peaceful quality of being alone with the artworks.

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After some fun in the galleries, we returned to the art studio to make our own paper. Before we went the galleries, we had prepped our paper by soaking it in water.  Our first step was to remove the soaked paper from the water and blend it into a pulp in one of our blenders.  I described the pulp consistency we needed as “watery oatmeal”…which got me a lot of “ew’s” in response.

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Once the pulp was created, we dunked our miniature screens (made from old picture frames!) into a bath of pulp and water and strained the water through the screens to create a flattened layer of “paper-like” pulp.

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Some participants chose to press different natural materials like dried flowers and spices into the wet paper (there might also have been a little glitter used :) ).

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We used pieces of felt to soak up as much water as we could from the paper, so that we could more easily remove it from the screens.

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Some of the papers required a little team effort to loosen them from the screen.

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To dry our papers more quickly, we set-up a “drying area” that included a station of hair dryers…a technique not used in traditional Nepalese paper making.

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The finished products were beautiful.  Participants were each able to make several colors and varieties of paper and left the workshop with an original work of art and hopefully some new knowledge about traditional art-making in the Himalayas.

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Please join us next month for our Green Greetings Family Art Lab on Saturday, December 14th from 2pm-4pm!

Until next time…enjoy your November and be thankful for your family!

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