An Exhibition Featuring 19 Decorative Papers

Editor’s notes: Visitors will have an opportunity to make their own paste papers during a reception at the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Neilson Library, on April 26.

For high-res images of the paste papers on display, e-mail Marti Hobbes.

ElisabethHyderNORTHAMPTON, Mass.—“Paste Papers of the Pioneer Valley,” an exhibition on view at Smith College through the end of May, celebrates the variety of color, design and technique of a special type of decorated paper—paste paper—produced as artwork on its own and for use in collages and book bindings. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, is on view daily, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., through May, in the Book Arts Gallery, located on the third floor of Neilson Library.

Paste paper is a mixture of paste and ground watercolor pigment or acrylic paint, which is applied to dampened paper with brushes, rollers or sponges, according to the late bookbinder David P. Bourbeau. “It is then combed, scraped, pulled or otherwise manipulated into a seemingly unlimited variety of textures and patterns. As the moisture evaporates and the paper dries, light and dark shadows create an interesting three-dimensional effect inherent in this method,” he said.

The 19 paste-paper makers whose works are on display are primarily bookbinders who live and work in the Pioneer Valley or who have strong ties to the area. Among the exhibitors are Carol Blinn, Sarah Creighton, Claudia Cohen, Daniel and Babette Gehnrich, Elisabeth Hyder (her work is featured in the image above), Sami Keats, Dan Kelm and Mark Tomlinson. Also on view is a reproduction of a rare paste paper by master bookbinder Arno Werner (1899-1995), who taught and inspired many of the country’s finest bookbinders. The exhibition at Smith also includes eight books bound using paste papers created by some of the artists whose work is on display.

Twenty deluxe copies of “Paste Papers of the Pioneer Valley”—a book designed by Michael Russem, which includes an introductory essay by Bourbeau, with boxes handmade by Barbara Blumenthal of Northampton—feature matted original pieces of the papers which were reproduced in 300 copies of the book printed by Capitol Offset in Concord, N.H.

Blumenthal is an independent bookbinder, as well as the rare book specialist at Smith College. Since 1980, she has designed, bound and published five books under her Catawba Press imprint, as well as bound hundreds of books for small press publishers and private collectors.

For more information, contact Barbara Blumenthal, (413) 586-0492.

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Marti Hobbes
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