Paste Paper Workshop Review

A Creative Time Was Had By All!

Jill Quillian’s Paste Paper Workshop

7 May 2022

            I not only have delighted memories of standing before easels in kindergarten, finger painting, I have many of the works I produced at that early age, thanks to my mother’s keeping them (a. she was no “keeper,” generally; and b. not sure she kept some of those things of my siblings—or did they no longer do finger painting by the time my siblings entered kindergarten?).  Making paste papers is fairly akin to finger painting, with rich, vivid results, each page a new adventure…and for calligraphers, you can write on them, use them for cards or end papers in book-binding, and anything else your creativity urges you to.  In Jill’s case, she has some books she has lettered and bound in tooled leather or metal covers—amazing pieces, indeed. As with finger-painting, you don your apron, but in this case, you wear gloves and make use of small pieces of sponge.  I had taken a paste-paper class with Jill about six years ago, so I knew I and my classmates were in for a lively, fun day.  And no experience necessary, just a willingness to get messy and creative.

Jill Quillian is an enthusiastic teacher and imaginative, prolific artist.  She had many of her works displayed to inspire us with what is possible, with or without calligraphic embellishment.  After viewing her pages, she described the process to us, and then engaged us in the process of color-mixing into two paste mediums she had prepared ahead of time.  With an array of vivid and inviting pigments, we each loaded a small plate with our chosen palette, used our bone folders to tear our large sheets of Arches Text Wove into workable sizes, wet down our tables, and entered into our own creative pursuits.  Along the way, Jill called us to her table to show us various methods and tools to do mark-making into the wet paint, and sent us back to try out what appealed to us.  Finish one piece, set it on plastic to dry, and jump right into seeing what would emerge next!

After a morning that whisked by, we toured each other’s work laid out on plastic sheets around the room, ate our lunches, and then walked across the green to Jill’s home, where she gave us a studio tour.  Her partner is also a fine artist, so their home is also an amazing gallery of their combined works and collections, such as antique ink pots.  Each partner has their own studio; we got to see her partner at work painting a commissioned portrait of a dog.  Jill’s carefully organized studio was lined with many of her works, including deeply decorated versals and a display rack of silk garments she paints.  I was reminded that when one keeps at one’s craft regularly, and is willing to keep trying new techniques and processes, one can produce beautiful results.

Back in the community clubhouse, we set back to work for the afternoon, continuing to see what emerged with new combinations of colors, trying some on black paper, or sprinkling the wet paints with powder gold and other metallics.  (Caution, it’s harder to write over the metallics, so use for highlights or for papers that won’t be calligraphed.)   We concluded the day with a clean-up time to return the clubhouse to its original setting, and the recipes to make on our own, should we wish.  The covered paints will last in the refrigerator about a month for reuse when the spirit strikes.  We left with a large stack of brilliant papers to take home for our creative pursuits. – Celeste Rossmiller


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