Papermaker Claudia Lee creates delightful boxes and sculptures using mixed media. Find out more about her by visiting her website.
I came to papermaking after 20 plus years as a textile designer and weaver. There is something sensual, luxurious, and full of history about textiles. I love the way that the addition of fiber art can warm a cold room and make it feel welcoming.
While taking a spinning class with Persis Grayson I was exposed to someone pulling sheets of handmade paper. The moment I saw this magic I knew that this was something I wanted to do. Paper has so many of the same qualities as fabric.
I use many of the same materials such as cotton and flax. I pigment and dye the paper pulp and can stitch on it like fabric. These were early days and it was several years before I was able to really study papermaking with someone and feel like I could begin a serious pursuit.
Now, thirty years later, I spend each day working with paper pulp and being amazed at how much there still is to learn.
I have several very distinct bodies of work including making sheets for other artists, binders and printmakers and my own work which includes wall art, artist books, boxes, sculptural lights and panels that are suspended from the ceiling.
The boxes grew out of two dimensional pieces that were collaged and heavily stitched. The boxes use the same paper, one I designed to have a surface texture that would take the pigments that I use in a wax resist technique in an interesting way and would also be heavy enough to make a firm box.
As a papermaker I’m able to design just the right paper for any project. These boxes are a perfect fusion of my textile skills and my papermaking skills. I decide what size the boxes will be and begin by making a template that can be used over and over. Each box has surprise elements such as a stitched design on the bottom of the box or a rattle in the lid.
Recently I began a series of sculptural lights using a new line of cast papers that glow when lit. The papers are a blend of abaca and flax and are cast on rusted metal which prints on the papers in a serendipitous way.
I’m just beginning to explore the possibilities for these lights and want to design some that will hang as well as those that sit on a floor or table. I’m also looking forward to adding color with an indigo vat and using washes of colors during the papermaking process.