From Plant to Page: The Morgan Plans for the Future of Paper Garden
TRANSFORMING a giant parking lot into an urban garden is no easy task. Before its evolution into a center for paper arts, the Morgan was a machine shop and its lot was packed tight with gravel and used to store road marking equipment. It’s hard to believe that this same lot is now a green oasis tucked into the industrial brick scenery of the Midtown neighborhood and home to the largest public kozo grove in the United States.
The art of papermaking can be traced to ancient China and the bark of the kozo tree over 2,000 years ago. Kozo, also called the paper mulberry tree, is the same type of plant grown, harvested and transformed into paper each year at the Morgan.
Two summers ago, we expanded our garden into a second lot, transforming vacant land and doubling our garden’s size in celebration of our ten-year anniversary. By growing the raw material onsite, we dramatically decrease our carbon footprint and create a self-sustaining cycle of papermaking designed to keep the intricate and laborious practices of Eastern papermaking alive.
“It’s a historic process and it grounds you to understand where materials come from and where they end up,” says founder and Artistic Director Tom Balbo. “I think you can learn a sense of origin. We mulch, fertilize, water and the season ends by harvesting the fiber in November. It takes care and patience.”
The Morgan’s Sam Caraboolad Garden is a working garden created for the purpose of providing hands-on education for interns, resident artists and volunteers. Our annual Kozo Harvest each November is a community-wide event that serves as an introduction to papermaking and the Morgan itself.
After the kozo is cut, it is steamed, scraped, cooked, rinsed, beaten into a pulp and then formed into sheets of paper. “Process is one part of the whole. It creates a greater appreciation for the craft,” says artist Julie McLaughlin whose work utilizes kozo in many applications. “It’s a strong fiber that creates a thin paper and it’s adaptable for so many uses. For me personally, I make a lot of wearable garments and it’s very fabric-like.”
Balbo dreamt of a paper garden since the Morgan’s inception. The garden began in 2007 with help from Tim Barrett at Iowa Center for the Book who provided us kozo root cuttings that were derived from Japan. In 2010, after three years of initial growth, the Morgan was ready for its first harvest. Now, we experience a bountiful harvest annually.
The most recent addition to our garden is flax. Not only does this plant produce beautiful blue flowers, it can also be processed into strong attractive paper. Additionally, we grow milkweed, which attracts pollinators to the garden such as monarch butterflies. The fluff inside of the milkweed seed pods also produces lovely paper.
Our garden includes plants that can be used as natural dyes for educational purposes and small-scale, experimental paper dyeing techniques. These plants include indigo, madder, coreopsis, dahlia and marigold. We also grow tororo-aoi (a member of the hibiscus family) for its roots that are used traditionally as a viscous formation aid in Japanese papermaking.
“We’re still raising funds for an open-air pavilion structure used to host workshops and community functions that will break ground later this year,” says Balbo. “Our target date is end of the year to have enough funding to build the pavilion.”
This year marks our third annual Farm to Table Feast, an outdoor dinner on July 13 featuring local seasonal fare, live entertainment and a silent auction with original works by regional and national artists. This year’s funds will assist in the completion of our garden expansion campaign.
WORKSHOP INSTRUCTORS EXHIBITION (PART I) | JUNE 7–JULY 6
Reception 6–9pm Friday, June 7
TRACES PAST | JUNE 7–JULY 20
Reception 6–9pm Friday, June 7
Ana Fernandez, Mary Manusos, Nane Wenhammar, Maggie Denk-Leigh
FARM TO TABLE BENEFIT | 5:30-9:30PM SATURDAY, JULY 13
Outdoor dinner featuring local seasonal fare, live entertainment and art auction
FLOURISH: MELISSA HAVILAND, MELISSA HARSHMAN, ANN MARIE KENNEDY, ADRIENNE SLANE
WORKSHOP INSTRUCTORS EXHIBITION (PART II) | AUGUST 2–SEPTEMBER 14
Reception 6–9pm Friday, August 2
SPACE BETWEEN: SCULPTING WITH KOZO | JUNE 8–9
PULP PAINTING & MONOPRINT FUSION: A COLLABORATION WITH ZYGOTE PRESS | JUNE 15–16
PAPERMAKING WITH LOCAL & NATURAL FIBERS | JUNE 22–23
PAPER BY DESIGN | JULY 6–7
INSIDE THE BOX: CREATING DYNAMIC DESIGNS WITH A DECKLE BOX | JULY 20–21
ARTISTIC PAPER PRODUCTION | JULY 27–28
PAPER & PRUSSIAN BLUE | AUGUST 31–SEPTEMBER 1
LETTERPRESS COLLABORATION! | JULY 13–14
MONOTYPE & FRIENDS | AUGUST 3–4
POETRY & LETTERPRESS | AUGUST 10–11
PRINTMAKING FUNDAMENTALS: EXPLORATORY RELIEF PRINT | AUGUST 17–18
LETTERPRESS FUNDAMENTALS: SINGLE SHEET BOOKS | AUGUST 24–25
Bookbinding & Book Arts:
EX LIBRIS: BOOKPLATES & HAND BOOKBINDING | JUNE 8–9
MINIATURE ZINES | JULY 20–21
BOOK AS ARCHIVE & ENCLOSURE| AUGUST 17–18
ECO-STYLE PRINT FOR ARTIST BOOKS | AUGUST 24–25
LIMP VELLUM BINDING | JUNE 15–16
18th-CENTURY ITALIAN PASTEBOARD BINDING | JULY 6–7
REINVENTING SLOT & TAB BINDING | JULY 27–28
THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER | AUGUST 3–4
BIND, FOLD, STITCH: SHIBORI RESIST DYEING | JULY 13–14
WAXING POETIC: ANOTHER LOOK AT ENCAUSTIC ON PAPER | AUGUST 10–11
To register for a Summer Workshop & for more details, please visit our website morganconservatory.org or call 216.361.9255.
The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation
1754 East 47th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44103