Western Gathering

Three of Mark Lander's beaters, ready to start crunching. 5 of the 8 of us own one of Mark's wonderful machines.

I have finally recovered from the amazing weekend with my papermaking friends at the annual Western Gathering, held here on Whidbey Island this year.  Papermakers from Oregon, California, and Washington came to spend three days slinging the pulp.  We always enjoy this event because it’s a wonderful opportunity to see old friends and clear our freezers to share our pulp collections.  This is a treat, because it often allows us to try out new fibers that are not local to our region, such as the redwood bast that Cris brought from northern California.  Or some new fiber we haven’t yet had the chance to try, such as the super clean gampi that Keith Gum has been bringing in from the Phillipines.  We take time to experiment with our equipment – such as testing to see if it is possible to overbeat abaca to that yummy transparent consistency in a Mark Lander Critter (it is).  We learn new techniques from our friends – Jan Moulder taught us how she makes beautiful leaf castings using real leaves as molds.

We take time away from the vats to do other things – this time it was lovely walks on the beach to gather seaweed for inclusions and a visit to the Gail Harker Creative Studies Center to visit one of my pieces hanging there and all of the beautiful work from the current class’s printmaking session.

Seaweed came from the local beach in beautiful colors and feathery textures.

All through the time, the laughter rings, the food magically appears from many hands, and the wine flows.  At the end, we chip in some money to the host to pay for the water and electricity we use, but beyond that and the travel, you can’t really beat the experience for the minimal price.  It rained and rained, but we were protected inside the verdant greenhouse at Horsetales Nursery, thanks to Sunni and her many friendships.  We really do produce a lot, so it takes a few days to recover.   Now…out to the studio to empty out the sheets made from that 5-gallon bucket of abaca.  I wonder how tall the stack of tissue-thin sheets will be…

Our "studio" for the long weekend.

Dinnertime show-and-tell. From left to right, Jan Moulder, Sunni Bergeron, Joy Connely, Nan Welch, and Kathy Metz-Carson's visiting sister (can't remember her name). She was showing us samples of a Korean technique of fusing mulberry paper by working it in the hands while it is wet.

Anybody care to guess what this fiber is?

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