Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Appreciating history & art in a paper salesman’s catalogue June 18, 2014

Specimens, an incredible collection of fine papers and printing.

Specimens, an incredible  leather-bound collection of fine papers and printing.

I AM SETTLED ON THE SOFA, over-sized hardcover book weighing heavy upon my lap as I wade through the massive volume.

PRINT Magazine cover designed by Andrew Szoeke, printed silkscreen at Pied Piper Press, New York; caption and colophone designed by Ben Lane, printed letterpress at The Lane Press, Burlington, Vermont. Handmade natural wood veneer paper.

One of the pages in the Specimens Catalogue: PRINT Magazine cover designed by Andrew Szoeke, printed silkscreen at Pied Piper Press, New York; caption and colophon designed by Ben Lane, printed letterpress at The Lane Press, Burlington, Vermont. Handmade natural wood veneer paper.

Slowly I turn each page, studying the fonts, the colors, the graphics, the details that have me giddy as a kid flipping through the J.C. Penny or Sears Christmas catalogs.

Except I’m not wishing for something. I already have my gift, this 10 x 12-inch, one-inch thick book, this 1953 Stevens-Nelson Paper Corporation Specimens Catalogue found on the basement floor at an estate sale and immediately tucked into my arms and clamped against my chest.

The boldest print in the book, designed by Thomas Davenport; engravings by Knapp Engraving Company, Inc. and printed letterpress by Aldus Printers, Inc., New York City; handmade TSUYUKO paper.

The boldest print in the book, designed by Thomas Davenport; engravings by Knapp Engraving Company, Inc. and printed letterpress by Aldus Printers, Inc., New York City; handmade TSUYUKO paper. On the right you can see the ragged edges of some of the 100-plus paper specimens.

I’ve never seen anything like this collected sample of fine printing and handmade, or handmade with mould machines, art paper. Ragged-edged paper that is so fine and rich feeling that I can’t stop brushing my fingers across the surfaces.

An Exhibition

Designed by William Stobbs for an exhibition “showing the development of Sailing Ships from the Santa Maria to the Cutty Sark” at the Science Museum, South Kensingston. Printed letterpress in two colors by London School of Printing and Graphic Arts.

Letterpress and lithograph. Well-known designers and printers, American and foreign.

Ford Motor Company

Fiftieth anniversary booklet title page designed by L. J. Ansbacher.

In my hands, I am holding art and history.

Fernand Leger's art printed for the Container Corporation in 4-color Gravure by Draeger Freres, Paris, France.

Fernand Leger’s art printed for the Container Corporation in 4-color Gravure by Draeger Freres, Paris, France.

The program cover from Dwight Eisenhower’s installation as 13th President of Columbia University, printed on paper that can be cleaned with water or kerosene. A Picasso lithograph printed on handmade SHOGUN heavy weight paper suitable for letterpress and silkscreen. Colorful art by Fernand Leger created for the Container Corporation of America.

Designed and printed letterpress by Connecticut Printers, Incorporated, Hartford, Connecticut on handmade NATSUME 4002 paper.

Designed and printed letterpress by Connecticut Printers, Incorporated, Hartford, Connecticut on handmade NATSUME 4002 paper.

My favorite—a block print of trees celebrating Pine Acres Farm’s 30 years of tree farming in Hampton, Connecticut. James L. Goodwin, one of America’s first professional foresters, started the farm in 1913, eventually gifting the property to the State of Connecticut in 1964.

McCall

Designed by George Maas for McCall; screen process printing by Roycliff Associates, Inc, New York City; letterpress printing by Pandick Press, Inc., New York City. Printed on handmade NATSUME paper.

I rapid-clap my hands with untethered excitement.

I inhale the smells of time, wood and ink bound within the pages of this book once carted from place to place by a 1950s paper salesman from Minnesota.

Leonardo

Catalogue cover designed by Aldo Novarese, types by Alessandro Butti, of Societa Nebiolo Torino. Printed letterpress in Nebiolo’s “Augustea” by G. Canale & C., Tornino, Italy.

A Leonardo da Vinci catalog cover and the cover of the White Swan Hotel’s wine list. Neiman-Marcus fashion awards for 1949. An illustration of George Bernard Shaw. A die-stamped Christian Dior letterhead. And so much more. All here, in this catalogue.

Catalogue, ships

Designed by Walter Howe, with illustration by Joseph Low and printed letterpress at The Lakeside Press, R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company, Chicago, Illinois. Handmade HOSHO paper.

I wonder if I should be handling such finery, such opulence, with white gloves.

Signagture

A series of headings for the cover of SIGNATURE, A Quadrimestrial of Typography and Graphic Arts, edited by Oliver Simon. Designed and printed by letterpress at The Curwen Press, Plaistow, London, England.

This is my kind of book, one which combines my love of the printed word with the art of printing it. I care about paper and fonts and graphics. Clean lines and simplicity.

Art flows beneath my fingertips as I turn page after page, examining the specimens once showcased by a Minnesota paper salesman.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Elephant poop paper and other discoveries at a Wisconsin museum April 18, 2012

ELEPHANT DUNG PAPER: The elephant’s high-fibrous diet makes for excellent paper!

If I had not read the above words at The Paper Discovery Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, I would have thought this to be a bunch of crap.

But would the creators of a paper discovery center spread untruths? I think not. After my recent visit to this museum, I followed up with online research. That led me to elephantdungpaper.com and more information about the elephant poop paper making process. Click here for details.

The Paper Discovery Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, with an attached coffee shop on the right, located along the banks of the Fox River. These brick buildings are stunning.

There’s no elephant dung paper making happening in the 1878 former Atlas Mill along the banks of the raging Fox River in Appleton. But visit this hands-on discovery center and you can make paper by recycling newspapers and other paper into “new” paper.

Two volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints staffed the paper making station on a recent Saturday afternoon. Visitors can make new paper here from recycled paper.

And if you have more than an hour of time—which is all my family had—you can learn lots about paper via child-friendly interactive displays. Kids would totally love this place.

A motion-activated sensor above the model's head triggers a sneeze.

I was amused by the motion-activated sneeze that sounded in the health and hygiene kiosk next to an oversized hand clutching a tissue.

Reading an informational display about diapers, I was not amused to learn that pioneers sometimes changed their babies’ diapers only once a day and did not always wash diapers between uses.

My 26-year-old daughter was a bit startled to learn that, before toilet paper, corn cobs were used in outhouses. She even suggested that I seat myself in the mini outhouse for a photo opp. I declined, assuring her I’d spent enough time in an outhouse having lived the first dozen years of my life in a farmhouse without a bathroom.

In the “From Tree to Tissue” exhibit, visitors can follow the process of producing tissue paper, no corn cobs involved. You’ll find plenty to entertain and enlighten you at this former mill operated by Kimberly-Clark Corporation until 2000, according to the museum attendee.

Sit down at a table, choose a color crayon, a mold and a piece of paper and create a leaf rubbing.

Authentic wood type is on display at a station where visitors can solve a crossword puzzle.

Assume the role of someone in the papermaking industry at this interactive exhibit.

Learn how watermarks, like this one, are printed onto paper.

Study the history of the Atlas Mill originally housed in this building which served as a Kimberly-Clark Corporation paper research center prior to its closing about a decade ago.

FYI: For more information about The Paper Discovery Center, 425 W. Water Street, Appleton, Wisconsin, click here. If you visit the museum, allow yourself plenty of time. We arrived only an hour before closing, leaving us only enough time to make paper and rush through the exhibits.

Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In which we travel to Wisconsin and make paper April 9, 2012

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WHO WOULD HAVE thought that making paper could be so much fun for a bunch of grown-ups?

Not me.

But making paper at The Paper Discovery Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, on Saturday proved so much fun for our family that I declared, “I could really get into this paper making.”

At that moment my 18-year-old son, Mr. Logical Scientist-Math Guy, clarified: “Technically we did not make paper.”

He would be right. We did not transform a tree into paper. Rather, we recycled the Sunday comics and other paper into new paper.

And here is how we did it with the assistance of two patient and friendly young missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who volunteer at the discovery center.

First, peruse the paper samples to determine what type of paper you would like to make. Ideally, you (your daughter) should drink your (her) coffee before coming to The Paper Discovery Center. But, if you (your daughter) are (is) fortunate enough, the nice lady at the front desk will allow you (your daughter) inside with your (her) coffee as long as you (she) promise (s) to keep a lid on it (the coffee cup, that is).

After you have torn your selected papers into postage stamp size pieces, drop the paper into the blender and add water, about three-fourths of the blue cup shown here.

Here you can add condiments (that's what I call them) like glitter and pressed flowers to the mix before blending in an ancient blender. A garage sale blender would work great for this part of the paper making. On the left is one of the patient paper making volunteer instructors. That's my husband waiting his turn.

Next, pour the blended paper pulp into a screen inside a wooden form and immerse in water. Here's where you get to dip your fingers into the pulpy water and swish everything together.

Evenly ease the forms from the water to reveal your paper. Remove the forms and sponge excess moisture off.

Move to the next table and lay an absorbent sheet of paper (can't recall the name, but it starts with a "c") on top of your paper. Put a board on top and press. The idea is too absorb even more water. Repeat several times.

Pull back the absorbent paper to reveal the recycled paper you've made. But you're not done yet. Next, move to a contraption that exerts 2,000 pounds of pressure onto the paper, binding the fibers. After that, move to a machine that applies heat to the paper. Keep your fingers out of both.

Finally, pose for a photo with the paper you've just created.

HAVE YOU EVER MADE paper like this? I’d like to hear, especially if you’ve made your own forms, etc. This may just be an art I’d like to try at home.

PLEASE CHECK BACK for another post from The Paper Discovery Center in Appleton, Wisconsin.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling