Alison studied Fine Art Print Making at Glasgow School of Art and this is where her interest in paper began, under the tutelage of paper artist Jacki Parry. She set up Pulp – her paper-making studio – in 2005 where she makes her own paper, teaches paper making, runs workshops and courses, works on commissions (such as with The Fife Arms) and also makes her own small etchings inspired by the fibres and forms she finds in the paper she makes.
The workshops she runs vary from anniversary workshops, where a couple will make paper together for their 1st anniversary (the ‘paper’ anniversary), to bereavement workshops, where a piece of clothing belonging to the deceased is made into beautiful paper or a book. Her future plans include organising more formal training/apprenticeships in order to keep hand paper making alive in Glasgow.
To make the paper, she first cuts the fabric into small pieces – approx. 1 square inch – which are then added to the Hollander Beater (a machine first developed by the Dutch in 1680) where they are beaten to a pulp over 3-4 closely monitored hours. The paper is then formed on moulds and deckles where the water drains off. Lastly, a hydraulic press squeezes out the last of the liquid. The finished paper is stacked into drying racks.
The whole process is very involved – Alison describes it as a meditative practice, carried out to the particular sounds of the workshop, from the beating of the pulp to the dripping of the water coming off the deckle. It balances experimentation and playfulness with technical expertise.
The paper she has produced from the linens of the Fife Arms is 51 x 41cm, a traditional paper making size. It is deckle edged – a clean but soft edge that is much more in keeping with the qualities of the paper than a sharply cut edge. Each piece of paper is unique – with its own patterns and texture.
Turn the page on Alison's collaboration with the Fife Arms, which you can discover in The Fife Arms Coronation Collection now.
Written by Willo Horsbrugh