by Ruby Inurriaga
In the spring of 1912, Pablo Picasso created the first collage. This work, Still Life with Chair Caning, is considered the first because it is the earliest known artwork to have taken familiar materials, such as random papers, and deliberately arrange them in a fine art context (Shields). This new direction in modern art was coined papier collé, a French phrase for “glued paper,” by Picasso and Georges Braque, an artist who worked closely with Picasso during the creation of Cubism. Collage was a groundbreaking movement because it was a drastic change from the traditional domain of painting, as the “procedures for laying out, pinning, and gluing papier collés resemble commercial design strategies more than they do the protocol of the fine arts” (Bois, Buchloh, Foster, Joselit, and Krauss, 114). Not only did the collage movement completely shift the entire vocabulary of Cubism, it has inspired art of all different styles and forms throughout the twentieth century and even today.
Picasso’s work, Still Life with Chair Caning, was created using oil and pasted oilcloth on canvas, rope, and a chair caning. The artwork depicts a still life and references objects that could be laid on a table in a café. In this piece, Picasso brought in foreign objects, like a chair caning, which could have been found in one’s seat at a coffee shop. The letters incorporated into the artwork could possibly be referencing newspapers that could have been laying on the table. This piece allowed Picasso to explore what would happen when other objects were inserted into a painting. He used pieces from the actual scene he was depicting and arranged them in a new, abstract way. Collage is an art form that accentuates process over product. A collage as a work of art, “consists of the assembly of various fragments of materials, combined in such a way that the composition has a new meaning, not inherent in any of the individual fragments” (Shields). Still Life with Chair Caning can be seen as a reinvention of the still life.
Picasso created many more collage works, one being Bowl with Fruit, Violin and Wineglass, made in 1912-1913 with charcoal, chalk, watercolor, oil paint, and cut papers. This piece also seems to depict a still life inspired by a café scene. In this artwork, separate printed pieces of fruit are placed on top of a paper cut-out shaped like a bowl. Newspaper articles have been cut up and used many times, and some even assume that Picasso was referencing the conversations that happened at the table in a café. Collage works were not driven to accomplish illusionistic representation, but instead relied on various materials and compositional logic.
Papier collé was a revolutionary movement in modern art as it seemed to attain several meanings; “the original identity of the fragment or object and all of the history it brings with it; the new meaning it gains in association with other objects or elements; and the meaning it acquires as the result of its metamorphosis into a new entity” (Shields). Due to the innovative nature of collage, it has served as source of inspiration throughout art history.
Art, Philadelphia Museum of. “Bowl with Fruit, Violin, and Wineglass.” Philadelphia Museum of Art, www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/53855.html.
Foster, Hal, et al. Art Since 1900. Thames and Hudson.
Shields, Jennifer1. "Collage and Architecture." International Journal of the Image, vol. 2, no. 3, Oct. 2012, pp. 85.
Still-Life with Chair Caning, 1912 by Pablo Picasso, www.pablopicasso.org/still-life-with-chair- caning.jsp#prettyPhoto.
Papercrete is a medium most commonly utilized in the creation of Earthships. Papercrete, in its holistic form, is an alternative construction material constituted of paper pulp, aggregate (sand), and earthen clay.
Some folks add cement to this mixture for additional tinsel strength. As an artist concerned with the environmental repercussions of my studio-practice, I will promote this report to exclude the use of cement due to its contributions in greenhouse-gas buildup.
That being said, papercrete has incredible potential to create great work without causing planetary destruction! This oatmeal-like mixture can be cast in molds to make bricks or structures, applied to surfaces, and pulled as sheets. The mix gains its strength as it dries out in the sun.
Papercrete first appeared in US patents during the 1920’s. There is archival debate about the specific date, but its been nearly a century since the beginning of its uses in the US. At that point in history, paper was expensive to build with. Today it is seen as an opportunity for effective recycling and is reinforced with rebar in some instances for load-bearing.
Little research has been quantified to represent papercrete’s structural integrity in relation to building code. That, however, did not stop it’s resurgence in the Southwest during the 1980’s. As Ian Dille wrote for the Texas Observer in 2014, “ […] various individuals in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona independently rediscovered the process and began experimenting with papercrete.” Dille continues to summarize that, “[…] in a sense the papercreters were unified by location. they tended to live on the fringes of the grid or off it entirely. Most resided in jurisdictions with lax building codes, or no building codes at all, where they could build without restriction.”
The second generation of “papercreters” may have been geographically unified in their aversion to building codes, but were conceptually unified on a global scale with a vast historical lineage. Alex Wright, a team member of Watershed Materials, discusses parallel evidence of Ancient Egypt’s earthen construction tactics in his article Geopolymer Concrete, Egyptian Pryamids, and a New Way Forward for Sustainable Masonry. Data sediments to reveal that the massive pyramid blocks were cast in place. The durable substance was made of locally-sourced earthen materials and poured into wooden molds, where they would sit as they baked in the sun.
Wright states, “[…] the Egyptians appear to have pioneered a geoploymer concrete that lasted throughout the history of modern humanity made from abundant common earthen materials found nearly everywhere on the planet. Compare that to the concrete we make that lasts half a century and comes with a disastrous carbon footprint.” Wright extends this notion of refection as he continues to re-imagine the potential for the future of building.
By revisiting humankind’s universal heritage of composite-construction methods with naturally occurring materials, we begin to unfold the limitless potential for cleaner making. I believe that papercrete may be an ideal vehicle for environmentally-concerned investigations.
Papercrete is lightweight and strong. Which makes it easy to move, store, and ship from studio to gallery. Artists have utilized this material in conceptual conversation about the human relationships to the building upon earth. Oscar Tuazon describes this “outlaw architecture” as a “physical […] experience of balance,” in his artist bio for the Luhring Augustine gallery.
Tuazon utilizes papercrete with his “I Can’t See” series, in which the medium exists as it is contained within its wooden flask. The works feature inclusions of larger recycled paper scraps. Tuazon may be discussing the blinding clutter of consumption yet simultaneously re-invisions its potential condensing via its repurposing.
Highlighting the possible potential for the future of our artistic and environmental interrelation is critical for sustainable studio practice. In light of the earth’s suffered damages, it feels unkind to turn a blind eye in the anthropocene. So let us take notice, make changes, and adapt our modes of creation.
Let’s look to the world of paper-art and re-iamgine how it can stand to aid in that. Paper-making and book arts overflow into the realm of sculpture, but papercrete could break the levee. Dissolving boundaries between artistic disciplines and building bridges from practice to concept, papercrete holds weight in the potential for our future from our past.
The inclination to collect is indefinable. Some are so dedicated to the gathering, they are honored in the Guinness World Records for their unique collections. The unusual dedication holds mystery in both the discrimination of the category and attraction to it. The discipline in collecting such large quantities becomes an achievement in itself.
Along with the assumed collections of products, toys, and superhero memorabilia, are the more peculiar accumulations. Most of these have related records pertaining to size, time, age, which at times seem even more mysterious than the associated collection. Examples of the less surprising collections include: Biggest coke cans collection, largest Barbie collection, and largest Superman memorabilia collection, most stickers, biggest record collection, and on.
Sir Hugh Beaver, Managing Director of the Guinness Brewery, attended a shooting party where guests argued about the fastest game bird in Europe without any reference to conclude it. Several years later in 1954, he decided to start a “Guinness promotion based on the idea of settling pub arguments and invited the twins Norris and Ross McWhirter who were fact-finding researchers from Fleet Street to compile a book of facts and figures.” In the about us section on the Guinness World Records website, inspiring people is the purpose to keeping these records. Even their mission is to be the best at keeping records. Company values include integrity, respect, inclusiveness, and passion. Originally the Guinness Book of Records, Guinness World Records, has over 50,000 records in the database. It receives about 47,000 record applications from 178 countries annually, and approves around 6,000 of them.
“We don’t define or recognize success in a conventional or limited way and so draw upon the entire range of superlatives to help people realize their potential and to re-examine the world.”
The vision is “to make the amazing official.”
This is a selection of unusual collections honored for being the biggest of their kind.
Somewhere in between, and an appropriate starting place is Martyn Tovey’s 1,700 collectible Guinness World Records items, including approximately 1,200 books
Frank Divendal of the Netherlands owns the largest collection of bookmarks with 103,009 different bookmarks from all over the world, which he has amassed since 1982. He sorts them first by country. Within each country he arranges them by theme, such as bookshops, libraries, tourism, etc. Although he collects all types of bookmarks, his favorites are the ones made of paper.
Irene Sparks has the largest collection of ties counting at 21, 321. From New Zealand, she started her collection in 2000, because she wanted to make quilts from this collected accessory. It took her 2 years to make 3 quilts.
Manfred S. Rothstein has been collecting back scratchers since the 1970’s. He has 675 from 71 countries, and stores them in his dermatology clinic in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Although an entire category exists about the human body such as tallest and shortest people, longest fingernails, hair, and on, there are also several collections involving parts of the body, including bellybutton fluff and toenails.
Graham Barker has the largest collection of naval fluff by a single person. He has been collecting it since 1984, and has a website dedicated to the collection. Here he describes the reasoning behind any good collection and explains how his fits into this successfully. These criteria include uniqueness, rarity, completeness of collection, and good condition of items.
“It was on the 17th of January 1984 that I found myself under-occupied in a youth hostel in Brisbane. The night was steamy and stormy - too wet outside and too hot inside to do very much, and my attention drifted to my belly button. There it was ... fluff! I must have seen it before that night, but this occasion was the first time I ever picked it out and wondered about it. I became curious about how much navel fluff one person could generate (enough to stuff a cushion, maybe?), and the only way to find for sure was to collect it and see. My first piece of navel fluff was stored in an empty film canister, and the collection had begun.
I've read that if you do something every day for three weeks it becomes an ingrained habit, and that’s what happened with collecting navel fluff. The ritual of removing fluff from my navel and putting it in a jar prior to my daily shower soon became a habit, and now that I've been doing it so long it would take some effort to stop. As the photo shows, the volume collected is disappointingly small for such a long time, and I doubt I'll ever have enough to stuff a cushion, but it may be handy for something one day.”
The Australian goes on to describe the color of the fluff relating to clothing and type of washing machine used, as well as the reasons the body naturally collects it. He created a survey generating data about the physical properties and manufacturers of belly button fluff with 5,000 responses.
Atlantic PATH of Canada, Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health Study, is part of the largest cancer study ever conducted in Canada looking at “how genetics, environment, lifestyle and behavior contribute to the development of cancer.” They are the proud owners of the largest collection of toenail clippings with samples from 24,999 individuals. The clippings were collected as part of a scientific study in researching cancer.
An article in CBC news quotes Project director Dr. Louise Parker by explaining, "toenail clippings are really important because they tell us about environmental exposures over about the previous nine months — before the toenails were clipped and during that time they're exposed to all the things that you're exposed to in your diet, in the water that you drink, in the general environment.” The collection and study is ongoing. They are studying blood simultaneously.
Val Kolpakov of Alpharetta, Georgia has the largest collection of toothpaste tubes consisting of 2,037 different tubes of toothpaste from all over the world. The collection started when he read about German Carsten Gutzeit who collected 500 tubes.
“I thought that collecting toothpaste was a nice hobby for a dental professional. It allows you to learn more about your profession, I had friends all over the world, so I asked them to mail me toothpaste from the countries where they lived.” An English antique Georgian 1801 silver tooth powder box he considers the most rare and valuable because toothpaste was not invented at that point, so tooth powders were used. He paid over $1500 for it.
“I have several toothpaste tubes that were dug out of World War II trenches, including Doramad toothpaste that had an active radioactive compound. During those times, some people believed that radiation [could] revive dead tissues and that radioactive toothpaste [could] revive your gums.”
Nancy Hoffman owns the largest collection of umbrella covers with 730. From Peaks Island, Maine her house became the site of the Umbrella Cover Museum in 1996. The collection includes covers from 50 different countries and was established as a celebration of the mundane. The museum even has an official song.
Carsten Tews has 1,563 different mobile phones, which he has collected since 1998. The oldest mobile phone he owns is a 33-year-old TEKADE BSA 31. He lives in Germany.
Malin Fritzell of Torekov, Sweden has been collecting paper dolls since the 1960s and has a collection of 4,720.
Barbara Hartsfield of Ellenwood, Georgia has a collection of 3,000 miniature chairs, which she has been collecting over 10 years.
Chris Ried owns the largest collection of super soakers, with 340 of them. His first water gun is autographed by Lonnie Johnson, the inventor of the super soaker.
Karen Ferrier of the UK has 1,117 different dalmatian-related items that she has been collecting since 1991. Karen’s collection includes a car and the items that used to belong to Dodie Smith, the author of 101 Dalmatians.
Harry Sperl, aka Hamburger Harry, from Germany has a collection of 3,724 hamburger related items.
David Morgan of the UK has a collection of 137 different traffic cones. He owns a cone from about two thirds of all types ever made. As a traffic cone inventor and manufacturer, Morgan explains in a short documentary, King Cone, more about his collection. “I see them as little soldiers that are out protecting the public, and the public don’t notice it. I think it’s very sad when you see a cone that’s being discarded, that has done its work, and no one cares, and no one looks after it. So when I find them I actually bring them in and bathe them in hot water, keep them in a darkened room so the sun doesn’t fade them, then catalogue them.”
Niek Vermeulen of the Netherlands has 6,290 airline sickness bags consisting of 1,191 different airlines and almost 200 countries, which he has gathered since the 1970s.
Rainer Weichert has collected 'Do Not Disturb' signs. He lives in Germany and the collection consists of 11,570 signs from 188 countries. Since 1990, he has been collecting them from hotels, cruise ships and airplanes. His favorite item is a wooden statue he collected from the Matahari Beach Resort in Bali. His most rare and valuable item is from the Olympic Village, in Berlin, from 1936. His oldest item is from the General Brock Hotel, in Canada, and dates back to 8 September 1910.
Milan Lukich Valdivia has the largest collection of candy wrappers with 5,065 wrappers.
Ralf Schroder of Germany owns the largest collection of sugar packets containing 14,502 different sugar packets. He started his collection in 1987. The oldest sugar packet dates back to the 1950's.
Martina Schellenberg of Germany has the largest collection of napkins with 125,866 different ones. The collection is catalogued by theme and arranged in separate boxes.
Carol Vaughan of the UK has the largest collection of soaps. She has collected 1,331 individual bars of soap since 1991. Miss Vaughn said she loves finding a new soap she hasn't seen before and likes to find ones that might seem unusual. "I was given one by a friend that is shaped liked cheesecake, you don't know whether to eat it or use it to have a wash," she said.
The list goes on, with many missed and countless future champions. Regardless of the psychology behind the desire to amass these quantities as collections, the mystery beneath poses seemingly endless questions. With thoughts about human nature, cultural impacts, and societal entertainment, the extreme connects the mass.
Modern paper making methods are attributed to Cai Lun, a member of the Chinese royal court, in 105 A.D. Prior to his invention, books were bulky, heavy, and inconvenient for scholars to travel with. Cai Lun’s technique utilized worn fishnet, bark, and cloth, and the resulting paper was light, easy to write and paint on, relatively inexpensive to produce, and durable.
Portrait of Cai Lun
Cai Lun’s invention proved popular and useful, and found great favor within the royal house. The different regions of China eventually generated paper made with ingredients from that specific area, and were prized for their unique qualities. Wenzhou Juan paper, made from pickled bamboo, was used to print money and official documents. “Juan” in the name of the paper apparently signifies that the papermakers did not have to pay taxes on their business.
The following is an old recipe for making Wenzhou Juan Paper, using the pickled bamboo method:
“First step. To take off the bamboo’s leaves and cut the bamboo into approximately one meter. Then, split the bamboo into strips & tie up into the bundles. The workers called this ‘Sha.’
Second step. To put these bamboo bundles under the blazing sun in order to make them dry.
Third step. To put these bamboo bundles into a stone pond full of quicklime and press them with big stones. This stone pond can hold the capacity of 1,500 kg. of the bamboo bundles.
Fourth step. After 3-5 months, take the bamboo bundles out and put them under the sun for drying and then put them into clean water to wash the lime away and be ready for use. We call this process ‘pickling bamboo’.
Fifth step. To put the pickled bamboo into the pit of the water power trip hammer, which is a simple hydraulic tool with a big water wheel driven by water and rotating as a turbine. It can propel a four-meter long wooden hammer slightly to crush the pickled bamboo into golden, fluff pulp. We call this process ‘smashing the bamboo bundle’, which is the only step in which the workers can use external force in the entire traditional method of papermaking.
Sixth step. To put the fluff pulp into the stone pond with clean water and stir it completely and drain the water. It becomes the pulp. We call this process ‘stirring the fluff pulp’.
Seventh step. To put the pulp into clean water and stir up thoroughly and use the sieve, which was made of small bamboo strips and scoop out the paper membrane. Then, to pile up these paper membranes and use a wooden board to squeeze out the water. We call this process ‘scooping out paper’.
Eighth step. To depart and dry the paper. The piled paper membranes are very easily broken. Usually, this work should be done by female workers who are clever and deft and careful. After taking the membrane from the piles, the women workers had to put it on the absolute level ground or on the wall for drying.”
This is apparently the same paper making method first utilized by Cai Lun, 1,897 years ago. The Chinese exported their paper making methods to Korea in 384, and in 610 a Korean monk brought his paper making knowledge to Japan. During a war between the Arab Empire and the Tang Dynasty, (the battle of Tallas – 751 AD), paper making workers and Tang soldiers were captured by the Arabs, who used the paper workers to set up a paper making factory in Bagdad. The Muslim paper makers substituted linen for mulberry bark, whereby linen rags were shredded, soaked in water, and fermented. The rags were then boiled, and beaten into pulp by using a trip hammer, which was an improvement initiated by the Arab papermakers. Baghdad became a center of paper making in the Muslim world, and paper mills in Damascus became a major source of paper for European countries. The increase in supply contributed to paper’s affordability, which allowed bookmaking to flourish.
The tools and technique of making paper leaf depicted in a volume illustrating crafts and trades, Kashmir (Source)
British Library: Making Islamic-style paper
From the Middle East, paper production moved west incrementally, with the first African paper mill founded in Egypt around 850 A.D., which is slightly less than a thousand years ago. From Egypt, papermaking spread to Morocco, and then reached Spain by 950. After landing in Spain, paper continued its world tour, landing in Sicily, where it was put to great use by the Christians in their quest to spread the teachings of the Bible. By 1293, Bologna had their first paper mill, and sixteen years later, England joined the paper brigade. Germany finally joined the ranks of paper producing countries by 1322 in Dordrecht, spreading to Nuremberg by 1390. From there, Poland was making paper by 1491, and Russian papermakers were in Moscow by 1578.
With the spread of easy, efficient, and inexpensive methods for producing paper, information and a wealth of knowledge was disseminated throughout much of the world, leading to the Renaissance in Europe, from which many cultural and industrial advances spread. The mapmakers of Europe added to the age of discovery, mapping the vast oceans of the world as well as newly ‘discovered’ continents. Paper changed the world.
A 1475 woodcut world map, published in Rudimentum novitiorum. PUBLIC DOMAIN
A 13th-century depiction of the world as a circle divided by into three continents, Asia, Europe, and Africa. BRITISH LIBRARY/ PUBLIC DOMAIN
Barrett, T. (1992). Japanese papermaking: Traditions, tools, and techniques (2nd ed.). New York: Weatherhill. (Original work published 1983)
Barrett, T. (2012). Paper through time: Nondestructive analysis of 14th- through 19th-century papers. Retrieved from the University of Iowa, Institute of Museum and Library Services: http://paper.lib.uiowa.edu/index.php
· Bloom J.M. (2017) Papermaking: The Historical Diffusion of an Ancient Technique. In: Jöns H., Meusburger P., Heffernan M. (eds) Mobilities of Knowledge. Knowledge and Space, vol 10. Springer, Cham Open Access Chapter First Online: 17 January 2017
THE HISTORY OF ANCIENT PAPER MAKING AT WENZHOU AREA, ZHEJIANG, CHINA Pan Mengbu, Senior Research Librarian, Wenzhou City Library, China, and Zhang Yongsu, Associate Research Librarian, Wenzhou City Library,China
The Chinese symbol for paper: