“Innerweave” by Amy Sands and Bridget O’Malley
Lauren Sinner February 27, 2019
The Innerweave lace paper series is part of a collaborative project between papermaker Bridget O’Malley and printmaker Amy Sands of Minneapolis, MN, which their art explores the interplay of print, paper and image. Their work was featured in Surface Design Association’s Winter 2018 Journal “Family Matters: SDA International Exhibition in Print.” Below Amy and Bridget dive deeper into the background and process of the work.
Amy: Innerweave extended from a collaborative project for the Morgan Conservatory’s exhibition Confluence. In this exhibition, papermakers collaborated with artists of their choice, paying tribute to the relationship of historical traditions and ideas of the future. Bridget and I paired up for this exhibition and we created a series of laser cut patterns mixed with printmaking on handmade paper. We were intrigued with the work we created for this exhibit but felt our experimentation was not complete. I remembered back to some time spent in Tokyo, where I came across lace washi papers. After talking to Bridget, we decided to continue our collaboration with this in mind. We were having so much fun collaborating, we didn’t want to quit!
Bridget: As a papermaker, I’ve been interested in watermarks for a long time. The thin and thick areas of watermarked paper seemed perfect for continuing our exploration. We tried several versions of watermark screens, from screenprint emulsion to mounting lace placemats directly on the paper mould and forming paper on top of them. After several less than successful attempts at watermarks, we happened to see some photographs online that were taken at a Paul Wong workshop on “blow-outs”.
Blow-outs are essentially the opposite of a watermark. You start with a full, solid sheet of paper, and place a stencil on it (in this case, vinyl lace tablecloths), then with a spray of water, rinse away the fiber that isn’t covered by the stencil. Conceptually it seemed it should work, but technically there were many finicky issues to resolve. Some of the paper was larger than 3 x 5 feet, so just making the basic sheet evenly was a challenge. In the end became a trial and error process of figuring out how thick/thin the paper needed to be, the correct mix of fibers (we used abaca and kozo), how much water pressure to rinse the excess fiber from the stencil, how to know when to stop rinsing and not wash away too much fiber (there were definitely some sheets where we rinsed away whole sections of the sheet).
Amy: It was a tedious process and not for the wary, but we were able to get enough success that we kept pushing forward. We seem to have come up with the right mixture of fiber disbursement, pressure of spray and even the shape of the spray (circular fine is best!) to produce this delicate, almost weightless paper. While it rivals the consistency of a machine-made lace washi paper, we are enjoying the slight nuances that only a hand-made sheet can provide.
Bridget: The fragments are also quite interesting on their own. They remind me of old and tattered linens and laces. Perhaps they will become pages for small edition,one-of-a-kind artist book. Nothing goes to waste. Any unused scraps can be re-pulped and made into a new sheet of paper, starting the process over again.
Amy’s work will be included in Winter Blues (group show) at Muriel Guépin Gallery, NY (through March 6, 2019), the 4th Global Print 2019, in Douro, Portugal (Aug 1–Sept 30, 2019), and the 10th International Printmaking Biennial Douro 2020, Douro, Portugal (Aug. 10–Oct. 31, 2020). IG: @printmaker FB: Amy Sands-Artist
Bridget’s work will be included in the Hennepin County Central Library (group show) Nature & the Book, Minneapolis, MN (Sept 10–Oct 30, 2019). Bridget is also teaching a week-long Papermaking Intensive at Minnesota Center for Book Arts June 10-14, 2019. IG: @omalleybridget
To read more about Amy & Bridget’s work, check out our Winter 2018 Journal, “Family Matters: SDA International Exhibition in Print.”