Book Review: The Art and Craft of Paper

 The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon. Well loved book, complete with coffee cup stain on the cover.

The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon. Well loved book, complete with coffee cup stain on the cover.

The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon. (1987). Chronicle Books in association with il papiro. Photography by Peter Marshall. Illustrations by Kevin Hart. San Francisco. ISBN 978-0-811-80788-3

I'd be surprised if The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon didn't have at least something to do with my love affair of paper when I read it for the first time in the late 1980s. Few arts or crafts books make my heart leap with joy. There's just something about the projects in this book that, instantly, put a grin of amazement and appreciation on my face.

 Table of Contents and sample marbled paper in The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon.

Table of Contents and sample marbled paper in The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon.

Shannon begins The Art and Craft of Paper with a brief history of the tradition of paper making, along with a basic outline of the paper making process. It's deceptively simple: pulp (made from a variety of materials from plants, fabrics, wood), plenty of water, a mold and deckle, a means of drying the paper (a press of some sort), and then a sizing agent to help reduce the paper's absorbency. But, the possibilities of shaping, coloring and finishing the paper are endless.

 Block Printing with Found Objects illustrations and photographs in The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon.

Block Printing with Found Objects illustrations and photographs in The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon.

Shannon provides readers with step-by-step instructions to make a sampler out of individually crumbled, cut, torn, folded, fluted, pierced, slit, impressed and woven pieces of paper. Then moves on to lessons showing how to decorate paper through print making using paste and color, spattering and spraying, resist techniques, block printing and marbling. The last sections of the book are dedicated to shaping paper into jewelry, covers for trays, boxes, lampshades or screens, frames, books and more.

 Resist Pattern and Color Wash photograph and illustrations in The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon.

Resist Pattern and Color Wash photograph and illustrations in The Art and Craft of Paper by Faith Shannon.

Shannon writes:

Of all media, paper is perhaps the most capable of deceiving the eye. Depending on how it is decorated and the forms into which it is shaped, it can reveal the fascinating intricacy of marquetry, the cool smoothness of ceramics or marble, the graininess of wood. Earrings, brooches, and other jewelry in paper can be contrived to look like enameled metal...This chameleon-like quality, so easily turned to advantage, is one of the great pleasures of working with paper on three-dimensional projects. (p.94)

There's something about paper--the texture, its versatility, sometimes even the smell of it--that lends itself to exploration. It takes a lot of abuse, allows for shredding, cutting, pounding, dyeing, shaping, and yields such delightfully varied results. Whether you're interested in making paper on which to write letters or to shape into a bowl or sculpture or decorative art, you will find inspiration in The Art and Craft of Paper.

If you read this book, please let me know what you think!

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Cheers!--Janyce