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Book Arts Collection

A guide to discovering artists' books in the Book Arts Collection at Hill Memorial Library.

About Handmade Paper Sheet Formation

When we think of making paper, we often think of "sheet formation." In Western papermaking, a mould and deckle are used in combination with a paper slurry to produce sheets of pulp that are dried into paper. The slurry can be created of traditional plant fibers like cotton or repurposed materials like military fatigue uniforms. Once the fiber is decided, inclusions such as thread or petals can be added to the slurry. Special moulds and deckles can create custom shaped paper, too. Handmade paper often lends a softer surface for printing, and as such, you might see deeper embossings of metal type or plate marks, or ink might behave a little differently from commercially produced papers. The sheet formation gallery shows examples of different printmaking media on handmade paper.

Sheet Formation Gallery


Samson-Talleur, Linda. Callisto. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Carotuccia Press, 1986.
N7433.4 .S257 C35 1986 OVER, Rare

This telling of Callisto is printed on handmade, shaped paper to accommodate illustrations that expand off the square page.

The Desert: Further Studies in Natural Appearances

Bervin, Jen. The Desert: Further Studies in Natural Appearances. New York City: Granary Books, 2008.
N7433.4 .B47 D47 2008 OVER, Rare

Blackout poetry created with a zig zag stitch of pale blue colored thread over the text of John C. Van Dyke. Bleached abaca paper by Twinrocker Handmade Papers.

Two Saints: The Martyrdom of St. Sergius & St. Bacchus

Borchardt, Brian. Two Saints: The Martyrdom of St. Sergius & St. Bacchus. [Wisconsin] : Seven Hills Press, 2004.
N7433.4 .B6735 T85 2004, Rare

Handmade paper from cotton, abaca and iris fibers.

Eels = Anguiles = Anguilas

Schweid, Richard. Eels = Anguiles = Anguilas. Barcelona, 2009.
PS3619 .C492 E45 2009 OVER, Rare
Victòria Rabal created the paper and covers of this artists' book; "printed" the poem via watermark; covers and illustrations are printed via pulp painting; and some illustrations and text are printed by silkscreen, such as this image.

"Sound Poem" from Shaped Poetry

Todd, Glenn. Shaped poetry: a suite of 30 typographic prints: chronicling this literary form from 300 BC to the present. San Francisco: Arion Press, 1981.
PN6110 .V56 S5 1981 FLAT, Rare

"Sound Poem" by Man Ray (1924) from a suite of letterpress printed concrete poetry. This suite of prints is primarily printed on handmade paper, some are artist-made and some are commercial handmade papers. The different weights and hardness of the papers illustrate the relationship that the qualities of paper have on letterpress printing.

About Watermarks

A sheet of paper may look plain, but holding it up to the light might reveal an interesting emblem. A watermark is historically used by papermakers as a signature or signal of authenticity. You might notice a watermark on bank checks, currency, or contemporary art papers such as Rives BFK or Fabriano. Artists who make paper for their books sometimes use watermarks to engage the reader in another layer of content. The watermark is created during the sheet formation process when a low-relief image is attached to the mould. This causes the image area to be thinner than the rest of the page, so when the paper is held up to light, more light shines through the thinner area enabling you to see the watermark.

Watermark Gallery


Schweid, Richard. Eels = Anguiles = Anguilas. Barcelona, 2009.
PS3619 .C492 E45 2009 OVER, Rare
Victòria Rabal "printed" the poem in this artist's book via watermark on handmade paper. This book also utilizes pulp painting and screen printing throughout.

About Pulp Painting

Pulp paintings are created with very fine pulp that has been pigmented. The pulp can be applied in a painterly manner directly to a base sheet during the sheet formation process. Stencils and masks can be used to help create a repeatable image. The wet sheet is then allowed to dry. The paper may stand alone as a final pulp painting artwork, or the pulp painting may be one element of a more complicated final work.

Pulp Painting Gallery

Dido and Aeneas

Purcell, Henry. Dido and Aeneas. Newark, Vt.: Janus Press, 1989.
ML50 .P99 D5 1989 FLAT, Rare

Multi-format structure using sewn pamphlets into the valleys of the larger accordion structure made from pulp painted handmade paper. The may be stood upright as an accordion or can be placed in the round as a circle-star structure. A recording of the opera is included.

Shannon Brock in The art of pulp painting

Glaubinger, Jane. The art of pulp painting. Washington, D.C.: Hand Papermaking, 2005.
TS1124.5 .A77 2005 OVER, Rare

Artists' statements and process notes accompany 18 specimens of pulp painting and handmade paper. Artists include: Laurence Barker, Shannon Brock, Wendy Cain, Kathryn Clark, Susan Gosin, Lois James, Bobbie Lippman, Bridget O'Malley, Dawn Peterson, Ken Polinskie, Pargaret Prentice, Victoria Rabal, Beverly Sky, Lynn Sures, Cynthia Thompson, Becky Whitehand, Paul Wong.

Letterpress set in the shape of a swan and its shadow.

"Swan and Shadow" from Shaped Poetry

Todd, Glenn. Shaped poetry: a suite of 30 typographic prints: chronicling this literary form from 300 BC to the present. San Francisco: Arion Press, 1981.
PN6110 .V56 S5 1981 FLAT, Rare

"Swan and Shadow" by John Hollander (1970) from a suite of letterpress printed concrete poetry, primarily printed on handmade paper. This print enhances the shape of the typesetting with pulp painting. For this piece, the type would have been set first and proofed. Referencing the proof, a stencil mask was created in the shape of the text. After the wet sheet was formed, the mask was placed on the wet sheet of paper, and then the pulp painting took place. Once the paper was dried, the text was printed.


Schweid, Richard. Eels = Anguiles = Anguilas. Barcelona, 2009.
PS3619 .C492 E45 2009 OVER, Rare
Victòria Rabal "printed" the poem in this artist's book via watermark on handmade paper. The covers are "printed" with pulp painting; some text and illustrations are screen printed.


Denise Levertov. Batterers. [West Burke, Vt.] : Janus Press, 1996, c1990.
PS3562 .E8876 B28 1996 FLAT, Rare

Shaped, pulp-painted, handmade paper unfolds to tell this poem about domestic violence.

Book open to image of Drew Matott with a laughing pedestrian on the city street with pulp painting of President George W. Bush

The People's Portraits of Bush

Matott, Drew Luan. The people's portraits of Bush. [Chicago : D.L. Matott, 2006].
N7433.4 .M43 P47 2006, Rare

Drew Matott took papermaking and pulp painting to the streets of Chicago where he engaged passersby in creating handmade paper. A total of 150 pulp paintings of portraits of George W. Bush and Jesus were created. This is both an artist's book and documentation of the event. Intervention and social engagement is a recurring theme in Matott's work. Drew Matott co-founded Combat Paper with Drew Cameron in 2007, and during this time, invented pulp printing by spraying fine pulp through coarse silkscreens.

About Paper Castings

Paper casting is generally created with paper during its wet stage. A freshly pulled sheet of wet pulp could be formed and laid over a mold to create a cast. This could be as simple as laying wet sheets into a muffin tin to create little paper cups, or it could be a more complicated sculptural process. This process takes the paper from being a flat sheet to a three dimensional sculpture. Another method of creating a paper casting is by pushing wet pulp into a mold, extracting the water (by sponge, for example), and repeating that process until the mold is filled, then allowed to dry.

Paper Casting Gallery

handmade paper cast of Eva Kellner's arm and hand

Fifty Years of Silence

Kellner, Tana. 71125, Fifty Years of Silence: Eva Kellner's Story. Rosendale, N.Y.: Women's Studio Workshop, 1992.
D805 .C95 K44 1992 FLAT, Rare

Eva Kellner's arm and hand, cast in handmade paper, accompanies her personal narrative of her time spent in concentration camps during the Jewish Holocaust. Her story is written in Czech, and her daughter's English translation is on the opposite page.


Chen, Julie. Wayfinding. Berkeley, California: Flying Fish Press, 2019.
N7433.4 .C436 W39 2019 FLAT, Rare

"Wayfinding examines the relationship between physical and mental learning through the context of navigation through time and space. The piece focuses the reader's experience on the physicality of the book as object through the inclusion of 3-dimensional cast paper sheets and pages of handmade paper that rattle when turned. A 3-dimensional alphabet abstracted from diagrams of flag semaphore addresses the activities of signaling and translation, and how information is taken in by all the senses and not just through the eyes." --Artist statement.

See this book in action:


McPherson, Sandra. Eve. London and; Vermont: Gefn Press, 1987.
PS3563 .A326 E93 1987 FLAT, Rare

A cast paper sculpture is surrounded by a black chiffon when you open the enclosure. The sculpture can be hung, which allows the accordion book attached to be viewed vertically.


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