Illuminated Paper Art by Helen Hiebert

A guest blog post by Helen Hiebert, a Colorado artist who constructs installations, sculptures, films, and artist books using handmade paper, thread, and light.

Hello Cloth Paper Scissors Blog Readers!

As the author of several how-to books about paper art and papermaking and the new Paperology columnist for Cloth Paper Scissors (download the issue here), I’m constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to use paper. I run a professional hand papermaking studio up in High Rockies (near Vail, CO), so I’m lucky to have a regular opportunity to try new things in and with paper. I also love collecting interesting tidbits and writing about how other artists are creating with paper in my weekly blog The Sunday Paper.

I have a particular fondness for the relationship between paper and light, something that began on a trip to Japan over 25 years ago when I saw the traditional shoji screens in the Inn where I stayed in Kyoto. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for papers that transform when illuminated, as well as ways to enhance a paper’s luminosity, whether that be through piercing or punching holes, layering, or applying a medium like wax that increases translucency. In the papermaking studio, I’ve been experimenting with watermarking: creating designs that are embedded within a sheet of paper.

Paper art ideas | Helen Hiebert,
The images are hand cut from a thin rubber material and adhered to the papermaking mould. The formed sheets end up thinner where the designs press into the wet paper and appear translucent compared to the rest of the sheet.

Over the years, I’ve taught myself, learned from others, and done lots of research in my exploration of innovative structures that capture light (aka lamps and lanterns). My first column in Paperology (Cloth Paper Scissors, July/August 2016) features a paper weaving project (below; click here for a tutorial that’s an extension of that project).

Paper art ideas | Helen Hiebert,
Click the image to enjoy this Woven Paper Lantern How-to Guide!

My book Paper Illuminated features 15 projects for making handcrafted luminaria, lanterns, screens, lamp shades and window treatments (Storey Books: 2001), and since then I’ve continued to develop a repertoire of lamp and lantern projects that utilize paper in a variety of ways. I enjoy sharing my ideas with others, in person through workshops, via my how-to books and on-line.

And I have a new project that I’m excited to share with you that features three paper lanterns plus 10 other projects (books, ornaments, mobiles, tabletop décor, and more). The Twelve Months of Paper Calendar is a how-to book and wall calendar all in one!

Paper art ideas | Helen Hiebert,
This is the cover of the Twelve Months of Paper Calendar, showing 12 of the 13 projects (December 2016 is a bonus month).

The calendar features 13 paper art projects to make, gift and enjoy throughout the year, and you’ll learn how to make a creative paper design every month.

Paper art ideas | Helen Hiebert,
December 2016 features a pop-up tree paper art project and a unique Japanese Paper

You can get a copy of the calendar at the early bird price if you order a copy (or two) through my Kickstarter Campaign (click here to support this project). For the last project in the series (December 2017) we’ll turn that watermarked snowflake paper into this Snowflake Luminaria (please note that you’ll have to purchase calendar with the custom paper pack, Reward #3, if you want to make it with this exact paper; otherwise, you can just use any paper you’d like).

Paper art ideas | Helen Hiebert,
This luminaria features the watermarked paper shown above and is the December 2017 project on the Twelve Months of Paper Calendar.

I’d love for you to introduce yourself if you are working with paper in innovative ways, and I look forward to sharing more Paperology with you over the coming months!

Bio: Helen Hiebert teaches and lectures about papermaking and lampmaking and exhibits her work internationally. She is author of the books Papermaking with Plants, The Papermaker’s Companion, Paper Illuminated, Playing With Paper, and Playing With Pop-Ups. Helen has an extensive network of paper colleagues around the world and her interest in how things are made (from paper) keeps her up-to-date on current paper trends, which she writes about in her weekly blog called The Sunday Paper. Helen’s most recent installation, “The Wish,” is a giant dandelion sculpture at Anythink Huron Street Library in Denver. She holds an annual paper retreat in her Red Cliff studio each September.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques, Paper Art and Zen Doodle


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