First-year field trip to Dieu Donné Papermill

Earlier this week, VCS faculty member Amy Wilson took her first-year Foundation Drawing class on a field trip to Dieu Donné Papermill so the students could learn about the process of traditional papermaking, and experiment with some of its techniques.

In the world of fine-art papermaking within the U.S., Dieu Donné may be unique in the size of its facilities and the scope of its projects. Here is a description of its history and mission from the Dieu Donné web site.

Founded in 1976, Dieu Donné Papermill is a non-profit artist workspace dedicated to the creation, promotion, and preservation of contemporary art in the hand papermaking process. In support of this mission, Dieu Donné collaborates with artists and partners with the professional visual arts community. Dieu Donné is housed in a 7,000 square foot ground-floor facility at 315 West 36th Street, where it maintains a studio, gallery, and archive.

The visit began with a walkthrough of the Dieu Donné facilities, during which the students got to see a selection of recent projects that the organization has done with various artists. The students also got to see the mill’s equipment in action, after which they got to try out some basic papermaking and decorating techniques firsthand. VCS student Berny Tan took a lot of photos to document the afternoon’s events. I’ve presented some of them here, with captions explaining what’s going on in each.

A selection of different artists' projects. In these pieces, the images and areas of color are part of the paper itself, and not made with paint or ink.

Dieu Donné Studio Manager & Collaborator Amy Jacobs describes some of the artists' projects.

A wider view of some of Dieu Donne's papermaking facilities.

The buckets in this photo contain pigmented paper in the form of liquified pulp.

A machine used for mixing raw paper.

Part of the mixer: a large roller that keeps the pulp at the proper consistency.

The bags on this shelf are full of dry pulp used to make pigmented paper.

Jacobs and an assistant hold mesh screens used for shaping the liquified pulp into sheets of handmade paper

Jacobs lays colored liquid paper into one of the mesh forms...

...and removes the frame to show the finished sheet. All that's left is to let it dry.

Creating a design on the still-wet sheet by dripping white liquid paper onto it from a squeeze bottle.


The students try out the process themselves.


So much wet pulp, waiting to be shaped.

Visual & Critical Studies