Papermakers Western Gathering 2004

Back in November 2003, the members of the Papermakers Yahoogroup mentioned it would be fun to have a get-together. The idea took off like wildfire. It was decided regions would have separate gatherings to make it easier to coordinate and more convenient. The Easterners started the ball rolling and the Westerners didn't waste time jumping on the bandwagon. The emails flew offlist once we had a few folks on each coast who wanted to make it happen.

The Western Gathering emails numbered almost 300 when it was all told and everyone was walking out the door. After several fits and starts, April 30 through May 2, 2004 was set in stone. Jan Moulder fell into place as the main coordinator, but we all pitched in. Before we even left our homes, we had billeting, food, a semi-hard agenda, supplies and transportation arranged to perfection. All of us were eager, excited and scared to death! (Gosh, what if I don't like them? What if they don't like ME!) There were members who were greatly experienced and rank beginners who had never made even recycled papers. Everyone had something to offer. The participants were Jan Moulder, Cris Ballinger, Julie Johnson, Kathy Metz-Carson and her guest, Liz Etheridge, Kristy, Lisa M. Harkins and her guest, Ronetta, Nancy Welch, Sunni Bergeron, and Susan Ernst with her charming daughter Alina.

Members began to pull into Waldport, Oregon on Thursday nite, April 29th and the last one to make it pulled in about 2.30p Friday. Eight of us pitched in together and got a house on the beach that slept eight people. Two of us camped at the KOA and two of us stayed at Karen Kennedy's retreat where the activities were scheduled. Waldport is right on the Alsea Bay and has a beautiful bridge. Our hostess, Karen, has several acres on the north side of Alsea Bay located on a steep slope. The area is simply magickal. The retreat is lush, verdant and thick with vegetation, peacocks, various animals, and the tang of sea breezes. Karen is petite with a huge heart and an eagle eye on customer satisfaction. The main activities were scheduled to be held on the more than ample porch of the main house. The studio above the double car garage was exquisite and was an excellent location for show and tell of already manufactured items and a comfortable spot to hang out when it got too cold (which was only late in the evening!). We invaded the kitchen in the main house, filling Karen's refrigerator to capacity and plugging in our coffee pot. We all nibbled when we either got hungry or remembered to eat. There are numerous deer trails to follow if walking and exploring is in order, the beach is a five minute drive away and town is right on the beach.

Friday morning, a couple arrived by 7.30a to set up and by 10.a the party was in full swing. When we all finally got together, all anxiety about meeting and getting along were wiped away in the blink of an eye. We all became outgoing, gregarious, almost giddy and there was much cackling and a constant chatter. We ebbed and flowed from one end to the other of the porch as first this person and then that had an interesting idea to share. Anything new spread throughout the group like electricity. The energies were incredible and, when we stopped a moment to observe the group as a whole, we realized we were there on May Day (Beltane), there were thirteen of us ranging from teens to 50s, we were all women and we were brewing up magic in our vats!! Too funny.

Everyone brought out all their offerings and dropped them on the porch for all to pick over and play with. Jan from Spokane made one of her fabulous lamps and someone did a quick demonstration on what bast is and how to pull it. Sunni arrived in the early afternoon and within minutes had her Cherub set up beside Julie's two pound Critter. The fiber being beaten was some slightly undercooked hemp. We cut some into tiny lengths for the Cherub to beat alongside the Critter. The findings were interesting. The Cherub fluffed the hemp faster than the Critter, but the Critter started munching on its own before the Cherub. Likely that had something to do with the tub capacity. We ran the beaters all through Friday afternoon, shutting them off for the night. No paper was pulled on Friday, but ideas and plans flowed freely. Lisa from Whidbey Island demonstrated marbling with alum covered paper and paint dropped on a carrageenan solution. It was a hit. As twilight darkened the sky, it got too cold and everyone began dispersing. Julie hooked up with her husband and they went to visit with her friend, Hollis, and her husband. Everyone else grabbed the spaghetti, brie, garlic bread and wine and we went to the beach house for several hours of more chatter, tall tales and laughter.

Saturday the Landers were started up again in the morning for a couple hours. Total time beating for the hemp was - don't quote me, I'm approximating - about nine hours. The hemp from the Cherub was a little softer when they were both stopped. It was a troublesome pulp to pull and everyone quickly moved onto more interesting pulps. The gals pulled out several nice, big vats and multiple pulps were dropped into the water and the papermaking commenced. As the day wore on into evening, pulps were blended, embellishments were added, couching techniques were demonstrated by Susan from Connecticut (our token Easterner), various post materials were tried, Julie's press went into overtime and beautiful items were cranked out. Julie from Portland gave a quickie demonstration how to make cordage and Nancy from California showed how she does suminagashi.

Jan Moulder made another lamp and one of her wildstars.

Cris Ballinger pulled lots and lots of sheets of paper, experimenting with different deckle/molds, couching techniques and fiber combinations.

Julie Johnson pulled paper, did some casting with a new rubber molding material and kept the vats going.

Kathy Metz-Carson pulled paper and watched everyone else.

Kristy manned the press, pulled paper and marbled.

Lisa M. Harkins pulled paper, marbled and kept the vats going.

Ronetta, the gal who had never made paper before, played - pulling paper and creating lovely pocketed sculptures.

Nancy Welch played with the different deckle/molds and made some gorgeous paper combinations

Liz Etheridge marbled and pulled some paper.

Sunni Bergeron watched mostly, whizzed up some fiber in the blender, did some casting and played with pulling paper with just screens.

Susan Ernst kept the vats going, and pulled paper - experimenting with various pulp mixtures and embellishments.

Alina was Susan's photographer.

About 4.p folks started getting antsy. Some wanted to walk the beach, others wanted to get ready for dinner. We had 6.p reservations at the La Serre in Yachats. A few of us wanted to keep working because Sunday would be a very short day, so those folks ordered in pizza. By 10p we were all exhausted and in bed.

Sunday! May Day! The gang arrived at the retreat about 9.a and Lisa showed everyone how to make an accordian book. Everyone took the idea and ran with it, making a wide variety of books. A group picture was taken, hugs were exchanged all around and everyone reluctantly started their journeys home around noon. Before she left, Jan presented our hostess with her own book made with handmade paper and her fee wrapped in a wallet of handmade paper with real-money confetti inclusions.

All in all, the gathering was a smashing success. We all became fast friends immediately, everyone enjoyed everyone else's company as if we had all known one another for decades and we all left refreshed, enthused and jazzed. For pictures of our momentous event, click the links below.

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Copyright 1998-2008 Colleen D. Bergeron.
Last revised: November 14 2008