Sustainably Sourced: The Morgan Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary with Garden Expansion
SUSTAINABILITY is at the root of what the Morgan represents. The art of papermaking has a long and interesting history that can be traced to ancient China and the bark of the kozo tree over 2,000 years ago. The kozo, also called the paper mulberry tree, is the same type of tree grown, harvested and transformed into paper each year at the Morgan.
The Morgan’s Sam Caraboolad Garden is a green oasis tucked into the industrial brick scenery of the Midtown neighborhood. It is the largest kozo grove in the United States. This spring, we expanded our garden into a second lot, doubling its size in celebration of our 10-year anniversary.
“There is a connectedness to the material that comes from planting a tree from a small root cutting, watching it grow and understanding the patience and time it takes to create a sheet of paper,” says Founder and Artistic Director, Tom Balbo. The Morgan is one of few facilities in the country dedicated to keeping the intricate and laborious practices of Eastern papermaking alive.
“I think our garden can teach a connectedness to the natural world and everybody has a connection in terms of touch—your fingers have the most sensitivity of your body. It’s a metaphor but it’s also a reality, there is a connectedness between the natural world and the world of art making. It’s not the most elegant garden, but it has meaning to people that you can be in the middle of Midtown growing and harvesting something and creating something beautiful from it,” says Balbo.
After the kozo is grown, it is cut, steamed, scraped, cooked, rinsed, beaten into a pulp and then formed into sheets of paper. By growing the raw material onsite, we avoid the sizable expense of importing the fibers from Asia, creating a self-sustaining cycle of papermaking and maintaining an ancient art form that can also be used as an educational tool. We share this process with our artists-in-residence, interns and volunteers who come from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds including printmaking, painting, sculpture and book arts.
The annual Kozo Harvest each November is a community-wide event that serves as a hands-on introduction to papermaking and the Morgan itself. The garden was first planted in 2007 using root cuttings from Iowa Center for the Book; Iowa’s cuttings derived from Japan. In 2010, after three initial years of growth, the Morgan was ready for its first harvest.
Balbo’s background spans antique restoration, ceramics, printmaking and papermaking. It was through his experiences as a printmaker that he first realized the importance and preciousness of fine paper. He has spent the past decade investing his life into papermaking.
“I wasn’t a production papermaker 10 years ago, I was an artist making paper and since then I’ve made thousands and thousands of different sheets and I’ve come to understand the nature of fiber through that process,” Balbo explains. “I’ve invested my life into preserving the art form. I was an antique restorer before I did anything in art school; I am familiar with the nature of things that are old—bringing them to life and keeping them alive is something I grew up with.”
Similar to Medieval Asian farmers, the Morgan harvests in the fall and performs the majority of its Asian papermaking in the winter, partially because the fibers tend to flow with greater ease when they don’t require refrigeration. In the spring and summer, we focus our attention on Western styles of paper production and our summer workshops.
In line with our vision of reusing and sustaining, the garden is landscaped with bricks and carved sandstone that have been salvaged from Cleveland buildings that have come down over the years. Our garden also includes a dye garden, used for workshops, education and small-scale, experimental paper dyeing. Plants we harvest include indigo, madder, coreopsis, dahlia and marigold used as natural dyes; tororo whose root is grown traditionally as a viscous formation aid in Japanese papermaking; and milkweed, another fiber used to create paper.
Our garden was named after Sam Caraboolad, who donated many of the initial plants—willows, Alberta spruce, hostas, pavers and recycled brick that started the garden. In 2013, a year after he passed away, we held a sit-down dinner in his memory that raised $13,000 for the garden. From its inception to present day, the Morgan wouldn’t be what is it without the support of volunteers who have donated through their ideas, actions, resources and time.
The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation
1754 East 47th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44103
Workshop Instructors Exhibition (rotating) | May 5 – September 15
Indelicate Truths | May 5 – June 17
2016 Artists-in-Residence Exhibition: Alexandra Janezic, Anna Tararova, Anna Waddell
Neck of the Woods | June 23 – July 29
Samantha Parker Salazar (cut paper, collage), Andrea Peterson (paper, book, print), Gaylord Schanilec (engraving), Lisa Schonberg (print)
Hong Hong: 2017 Artists-in-Residence talk | June 23, 7 pm
Below the Surface | August 4 – September 15
Farm to Table Benefit Dinner | July 15, 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Honoring Tom Balbo and our ten-year anniversary
Make It Last! Working Properties of Paper and Adhesives for Artists | June 3, 10 am – 4 pm
Hardcover Bookbinding | June 3 – 4, 10 am – 4 pm
Embedding with Handmade Paper | June 4, 10 am – 4 pm
French Door Box with Enlaced Closure | June 10 – 11, 10 am – 4 pm
Do-It-Yourself Polymer Plates | June 17 – 18, 10 am – 4 pm
Large-Scale Paper Pour | June 17 – 18, 10 am – 4 pm
*Master Class: Cropping Conventional Letterpress | June 24 – 25, 10 am – 4 pm
Within the Sheet: Contemporary Watermarks | June 24 – 25, 10 am – 4 pm
*Master Class: Magic Books | July 8 – 9, 10 am – 4 pm
*Master Class: Quintessential Stencil | July 8 – 9, 10 am – 4 pm
Sculptural Handmade Paper Lamps | July 14 -16, 10 am – 4 pm
To register for a workshop & for more details, please visit our website morganconservatory.org or call 216.361.9255
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