The Story of Me
I’ve always loved making things, since childhood when my mother had me doing rubbings of our linoleum floor, hired her artist friends to teach me and my friends how to draw, do macramé and bead, and employed me to make Christmas cards and gifts. My father brought home computer cards and paper (the old cards with perforated rectangular holes and paper with perforated strips with holes on the sides that you could tear off.
I remember going to a local craft fair when we lived in Los Alamos, New Mexico and being in awe of the vendors who made things by hand. And much later on a trip to Ecuador, seeing products made by hand from local plants by the native artisans. So you might imagine my elation when I discovered papermaking – an art form which allowed me to actually make (and even grow) my material, which I could then further manipulate to make artwork and products.
The spark first happened during a Junior Year abroad in Mainz, Germany. I took a class called paper. The thing that interested me most was pop-up structures, and I began exploring that art format. After that year, I went back to finish my degree at the University of the South and visited NYC during spring break. After college, I moved to NYC ended up working for a commercial printer and taking graphic design classes.
After a few years, I started thinking about art again. During a short trip to Japan, I was enamored by the simplicity and uniqueness of the packaging and graphic design, the shoji screens used architecturally in the traditional inn I stayed in and the fantastic papers I saw in the paper stores. I returned to NYC and started experimenting with papermaking in my kitchen.
I soon discovered Dieu Donne Papermill in Manhattan, began an internship and was hired as Program Director. I worked there for six years, learning the ropes of administration in the non-profit world and gleaning as much as I could about the papermaking process through observation and experimentation. I began teaching workshops, and Storey Books approached me about writing a book about making paper with plants, which led to two other book projects.
I met my husband Ted Katauskas, then a fact checker at The New Yorker, and we decided to move out of the city to start a family. We chose Portland, Oregon and moved in 1998 and now have two children. We were both freelancing at that point, and I decided to make a go of it with a small line of lighting products I was making with handmade paper. I attended the San Francisco Gift Fair to reach retail stores, and got my products into specialty stores around the country, was featured in magazines and newspapers, but discovered that what I really loved was designing products and making unique works of art.
Currently, I exhibit my experimental work with handmade paper, I teach and lecture about papermaking and lamp making internationally; I am on the board of the International Association of Hand Papermakers and am a member of the Friends of Dard Hunter; I serve on the board of Hand Papermaking Magazine and write a column for the Hand Papermaking Newsletter focusing on alternative papermaking techniques.