In 1979 Women’s Studio Workshop was one of the first organizations to offer access for all artists to work in our hand papermaking studio. For ten years WSW operated a production mill, using traditional western papermaking fibers. In 1990 the emphasis began to shift to working with locally grown material and by 1996 a collaboration between WSW and a nearby Community Supported Agriculture was established. This was the beginning of ArtFarm.
With the help of AmeriCorps volunteers, we planted plants known to produce good papermaking fibers; plants we suspected might yield fibers good for papermaking, and plants that enhance specific qualities of traditional paper fibers. We planted native and gathered invasive species and tested the material for thier strength, coloring capacities and print worthiness.
In an effort to encourage artists to work with these materials, WSW invited Alison Knowles fluxus artist, Talya Baharal sculptor, and Ken Gray printmaker to work in residence experimenting with ArtFarm fibers. The work resulted in a traveling exhibition From Seed to Sheet.
Today the ArtFarm is located on our own property, and is managed by WSW’s Studio Manager and volunteers. The entire process, from planting to processing, has become integral to all of our education programs, Summer Arts Institute and Hands-On-Art.