We here at Paper Connection International have come out of hibernation, finally, after a long, New England winter. Of course the snow has been long gone, but it seemed like cold weather would just never end, and all the elements with it-curling up in our sweaters and scarves, cradling our teas, looking for inspiration in a sunny day. Where inspiration can always be found is in our vast support from artists who not only buy our paper but regularly let us know how well it works in their processes. This month features Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord.
We have always admired her work, and are thrilled she ushers in May with her unique perspective. The weather may seem like it’s a month behind, and perhaps we are too with our AOM, but Susan is worth the wait.
PCI: What kind of artwork do you do, Susan?
SKG: I make artist’s books that I have named them SPIRIT BOOKS which combine natural materials and handmade papers to celebrate the spirit of nature. Here’s a statement about them:
The Spirit Books bring together my love of the book and my response to the natural world that we see and the invisible one that lies behind it. I feel a deep connection to older powers as I gather twigs, branches, vines, and roots. Using them to cradle books, I link them to the longstanding tradition of books as testaments of faith and belief. Each page is a meditation that echoes nature with both repetition and variety. “Reading” the book is meant to be a contemplative experience that takes the reader out of the everyday world and into a state of gratitude and reverence.
PCI: And we certainly do need to be taken out of the everyday world at times. What is the source of your inspiration?
SKG: I think the above statement describes my inspiration from nature and the book. I’d also like to honor the person who I consider my mentor, the late Jenny Hunter Groat. She was a modern dancer, a calligrapher, a painter, a Zen Buddhist, a deep thinker, and a kind and generous soul.
She wrote to me: “Follow where your passion lies. It has never been false to me. It will not mislead you. Have faith in your ‘rightness’ and mystery.”
PCI: When did handmade paper come into play?
SKG: I began my work in the visual arts with calligraphy. At that time I saw paper as a surface to write on. In my first books, paper was again the surface for words and imagery. When I began making the Spirit Books in 1992, paper took on a new significance. It became part of the core and meaning of the book. The paper is enhanced with small twigs, vines, beads, sew stitches, woven paper, and punched and pricked holes.
PCI: What do you like best about working with paper? Have you ever made paper?
SKG: I love the texture and feel of paper. I love its history. I like how I am linked to a long tradition of craftsmanship when I use it. I did take a papermaking class, but decided not to pursue it. I work very slowly and felt that if I added papermaking to the art making process, I would never get anything finished.
PCI: How did you hear about our company?
SKG: I first met Lauren in the late 1980s when she worked for a Japanese paper company that had a showroom in Boston. The papers were beautiful and she was always so knowledgeable. She taught me a lot about paper and was such fun to talk to.
A few of the first Spirit Books used Kosei paper from Japan that I purchased in Boston. Now many of them use Paper Connection’s lokta paper from Nepal. Because I want the Spirit Books to look and feel as organic as possible, I always tear the paper for the pages rather than cut it. I like the edges that I get from the strong and supple fibers of the Lokta paper. I always choose earth-toned papers to blend with the sticks, vines, driftwood, and other natural material.
PCI: What paper do you like to use and why?
SKG: I still do some calligraphy with pen and brush. One of my favorite papers to write on is gampi. The surface is silky and smooth and takes ink beautifully.
PCI: Thank you so much, Susan, for your time and insight.
For more on Susan please visit her website: SusanGaylord.com