Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Demonstration at the Mohawk School during Choegyal Namkhai Norbu’s Retreat

On July 18, 2014, we held our papermaking demonstration for Dzogchen Community memrbers in the Mohawk School cafeteria. A small handful of interested people (Diana, Jan, Francine, Thuy, and Rita) showed up and quickly were immersed in the process under the guidance of Sheryl Jaffee, our main teacher. Later, another group materialized following Jim’s explanation of the Ganapuja. 

Sheryl explaining the ropes to a small group

Beating the Kozo by hand

Making that first piece of paper

The first piece--perfect!

The ladies together pressing the water from the sheets of paper they created

A passer-by more interested in making music with our corn paper tambourine

The finished results dryng:  horsetail and kozo paper, some with Tibetan cloud motifs.

On the final day, Sheryl presented Rinpoche with the beautiful album she and her husband Walter made for our Festschrift project. 

Here are some close ups of the festschrift:



Friday, July 11, 2014

Jennifer’s Story So to Speak

On Monday of this week Jennifer Storey stopped by to make pulp for a special project she is working on. She brought some of her own linen cut up into small postage size as well as many secret symbols prepared on paper that she cut up to put into the pulp. That’s one of our specialities -- adding sacred text and substances to our hand crafted papers. 

Jennifer teaches Reiki locally here in Turners Falls but she is also part of the Shang Shung Institute’s online Four-year Tibetan medicine program and along with me,  Lama Tsultrim Allione’s Magyu lineage. She had just returned from  a week out at Tara Mandala where she studied with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and Lama Tsultrim.  

I was happy to work with her on this special project. After she left for the day, I tested some of her pulp and came up with very good results. So more to come when we actually make the paper next Sunday or Monday and reveal details about her special project. Here her five year old lending a helping hand. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our Demo at the Greenfield Industrial Heritage Museum

We had a great day at the Greenfield Industrial Heritage Museum as part of their exhibit, From Rags to Riches: History of Franklin County’s Paper Industry. 

Thanks to my helpers, Don and his wife Sara, my Turner Fall’s neighbors, we were able to bring the “Critter” AKA portable Hollander Beater (in the background) and give an actual demonstration of turning rags into pulp to make paper. 

Here’s Sara cutting up the linen into small pieces the size of a postage stamp to put into the Critter. I picked up the linen table cloth--a really nice old jaquard weave and very large from the local Salvation Army. 

Wonderful music by the Celtic trio Mist Covered Mountain with an informed Franco-Anglo history of music among the many French Canadians who travelled south to work in New England. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Brenda Lilly Reporting from the 2014 Origami Conference

Brenda Lilly, a founding member of the cooperative,  is one of our main instructors in papermaking and paper arts, especially Origami. She recently returned from the 2014 Origami Conference in NYC.

[Brenda Lilly in front of one of her pieces at our Khandroling show at Ursa Major Gallery in Shelburne Falls, MA last year]

She writes: "Origami has been a personal passion of mine for over 24 years. As an art educator I began learning folds that I could teach to my students. Over time and through influences from other artists I now fold with hand made papers, a variety of simple to complex designs, and incorporate the models into a work of art. The idea of sharing my accumulated knowledge inspires me to infect other people with the magic of creating something 3-dimensional with a flat piece of paper.

The Origami Convention in New York City through the Origami USA organization was well attended with over 500 origami enthusiasts. I participated in their exhibition with four new pieces, taught a class of 25 how to fold the Spinner Top, participated in a group in the Oversized Folding Contest, and engaged in many classes to create new models. Check out their website for further inspiration:"

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Part 2 of 2 Making Sacred Calligraphy Paper for Tara Mandala

Yesterday i ‘fired' up the Critter to make a special pulp combining cooked Kozo, Ping Tang, and linen which I beat for several hours. To the Critter,  earlier I had added many sacred texts and katas (scarves) blessed by great Tibetan masters such as HHDL, Dilgo Khyentse and Choegyal Namkhai Norbu.  Later a long list of sacred substances and blessed water was added to the vat of finished pulp. I also beat some pieces of a scarf worn by the late poet, Allen Ginsberg in the last months of his life since Lama Tsultrim, founder of Tara Mandala was once Allen’s meditation instructor. 

Thunder and Lightening shook us knee deep in water as the rain deluged all around us. I had to keep reminding myself that in some quarters rain is a blessed and auspicious occurance. Then I remembered among my favorite poets Simon Ortiz from the old Naropa days, here reading from Going for the Rain on the Poetry Foundation page, one of his first books.

[Sheryl pouring the finely beaten pulp into the vat]

[Preparing the vat]

[Delicately adding the ground sacred substances sent to us by Lama Tsultrim]

 [Sheryl using my favorite handmade mould for calligraphy--perfect size for horizontal mantras or vertically for single seed syllables. Behind her is the couching table]

After using the horizontal mould Sheryl made a few more pieces of the sacred paper using her large Japanese Sugata mould. Currently all are in her drying box now in Ludlow where I will pick up and hand deliver to Lama Tsultrim briefly in town next week.