Tuesday tools of trade

This week we're catching a commuter jet from Rhode Island, New York and heading south to meet Kendra from Greenpost in sunny St Petersburg, Florida. Kendra makes 100% recycled, upcycled and plantable papercrafts for the eco conscious.

I've long admired your creativity in producing such fantastic pieces through the use of unwanted paper. Can you take us through the tools you use in your creative process?

I began making handmade, recycled paper a little over a year ago and am entirely self-taught. Most of the tools in my papermaking studio have been appropriated from my kitchen and from my painting studio. One of the most beautiful things about making handmade paper is that it can actually be made with common items you already have in and around your home. You don't need to spend tons of money to get started and paper itself can be found everywhere and is eagerly awaiting to be recycled and re-used. This is an interesting time to ask me about my tools because I have just moved into a larger studio and am starting to make the transition away from my homemade operation and towards a more professional paper mill.

Tools I use: A tall architectural drafting table, desk, fine-mesh strainers, colander, large plastic tubs, sponges, felts, clothes drying racks, weights, heavy books, hand mixer, pitchers, measuring cups, funnels, plastic squeeze bottles, buckets, paper shredder, drill with mixing blade attachment, moulds and deckles (built them myself out of reclaimed wood), cookie cutters, plastic storage containers of all sizes and shapes, scissors, eyelet setter, hole punch, paper cutter, stamps, rulers, exacto knives, punches, bone folder and templates. I could keep going and going because everything looks like a tool to me!

Which leads me on to ask about the monetary outlay you've had in setting yourself up with all of this equipment. You say a lot of these tools have come from your kitchen but is there something extra you've had to buy?

Being asked what kind of "monetary outlay" I've had in setting myself up is fairly simple to assess ... very little! But, one thing I have spent money on is my extensive cookie cutter collection which I use as shaped deckles for my plantable tags. Because you asked, I had to count ... I have 231 metal cutters plus 1 large alphabet/number set and 1 mini alphabet/number set = approx. $500. I buy multiples in designs that sell well. People request every shape tag under the sun and if there is a cookie cutter to match, I'm game! I never would have thought I would spend so much money on cookie cutters :)

231 cookie cutters!

What special care and/or cleaning is required to keep your tools in optimal working order?

Taking care of my tools is important to me even if I spent little to no money in obtaining them. I think of my studio as though it is a kitchen and clean as I go. I am always wiping up water and rinsing pulp from screens. Standing pulpy water and wet wool felts will begin to smell if ignored. So, I always rinse my wool felts in clean water when I am through with them and hang them to dry. I also strain my papermaking tubs immediately after use and wring out and crumble the pulp onto drying racks to dry and store. Paper is expected to be clean and free from debris, so I am constantly organizing and cleaning in order to deliver the best results possible.

Do you need to wear any kind of safety equipment?

I do not really need any safety equipment, but I think comfortable shoes are a must. I stand at my table for hours at a time and my back and legs can become fatigued. I also think it is important to think about ergonomics and am always analyzing my movements and postures. Doing anything repetitively can lead to injury, so it is important to work in ways that are natural for the body.

If you could own any kind of tools that aren't related to your own craft what would they be?

It's difficult to think of tools I want that aren't related to my own craft because there are ways in which I can bring woodworking, metalworking, painting, printmaking and more into my current work with paper. My husband and I share a studio and we plan to expand our woodworking and metal shop, as well as my papermaking shop. I have worked in almost every medium and plan to continue experimenting and trying new things, But, I would really like to own a printmaking press. I studied printmaking in college and would really like to get back to that craft. I would love to be able to print on my own handmade paper!


paula said...

loved reading about you kendra! i wonder what deckles are...off to google that. fascinated about all the cookie cutters too. what a wonderful article!

BlueTerracotta said...

Great read! Where do you get so many cookie cutters? I love the photo of them.

donauluft said...

This was such a pleasure to read! Countless possibilities are here for your creativity! and I love to see every day objects used in workspaces.

Kendra Zvonik said...

Thanks Kerrin! I appreciate this opportunity to share my process and tools!
Thanks Paula! Here you go . . . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deckle
Thanks Laura! Here you go . . .
This online company has great service and super fast shipping! Highly recommended!
Thanks Viktoria! So true! I love all the possibilities with paper. It really keeps me inspired and each day feels like a treasure hunt as I look for the next tool!

M. B. Karger said...

What a professional-looking production! Love the organization of the colored pulp, the massive collection of fun cookie cutters, and the fact that you're creative enough not to exclude anything from becoming a tool at some point. Great post!

Waterrose said...

I'll never look at my cookie cutters in the same way again! Lovely interview and very interesting.

anakim said...

Love to read about you Kendra and to
see how you're constantly searching for new ways to express your self.
Congratulation on the your and Christian new studio.

Jessica Torrant said...

Inspiring insight into the working studio of one of my favorite artists!

Kendra Zvonik said...

Thank you, Marnie--my number one recycler, Crafterall! I couldn't do Green Post without your fantastic support!

Thank you Rose, Orna and Jessica! You all inspire me too!

Sigmosaics said...

I adored doing this interview with you Kendra - so incredibly interesting to read about everything that you use in your work. I had to laugh about the cookie cutters, I thought i had a decent pile of them but you really outdo us all with that number!! wow, 231 - such a great picture too. I hope you get your printmaking press one day :)

collage whirl said...

This is so interesting, Kendra-- I love the way you started out with an idea that uses a commodity, paper, and now you're building a larger work area. Sounds like you have plenty of future ideas for additional creative ventures, too. Fun!

KnotOriginal said...

What a cool set up you have, Kendra! I love this series and learning about the behind the scenes details we don't usually think of when viewing finished works. Any future plans for chocolate chip hang tags...;-)

glazedOver said...

Wow, GREAT interview! What a treat to peek over your shoulder like this, Kendra. I stared at that photo of your cookie cutters and found all my favorites. So cool! And I love that you are meticulously neat and organized. I LOVE your tags. I admit, I have neither planted nor attached them to gifts for other people...I just can't part with them! :D

Thank you, Kerrin, for such a well done, investigative interview!

kathiroussel said...

wow-- just look at that cookie cutter collection ( love that view from above) and all of those bins where you store all your paper goods and supplies. so great to see your new studio up and running and sounds like you and your husband have great plans for the future--very exciting.
so happy to see you here kendra-- and to get a view of the new studio digs!

nice interview kerrin!