Self Portrait with Coffee

Tom Lascell

Black and White Photography


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Paper Arts

So how does a photographer get into the paper arts? It's not really as strange as it might seem.

Photographers traditionally have two methods to share their work; either as framed prints in a gallery show or compiled as a coffee table book. But I tried to broaden my perspective. I had been exposed to alternative photographic processes in workshops with Christopher James and collaborated with papermaker Drew Matott in making Ravages of Time, a collaborative artist book (2008). What seemed a natural progression to me was to create my own paper on which to print my own images. Instead of confining myself to traditional commercial papers, I began my quest to create my own cotton rag papers to print on. My latest formula comprises white cotton rag and abaca in a 9:1 ratio. The biggest challenge was to create a smooth surface on which to paint the light sensitive emulsion so I could fully render the details found in my negatives.

I started with a straight linen paper, but it was too porous and prone to wrinkling. I then experimented with cotton rag but it didn't hold up well to the lengthy water bath. I've had good success with the cotton/abaca mix with a light external sizing after the sheets have dried. I find that printing on handmade papers adds an extra subtleness and depth to my imagemaking.

And once I dipped my hands into the paper pulp, I was hooked. The same tactile pleasure I found in the darkroom transfered to pulling sheets of paper from the vat. So I started hanging out with papermakers, learning the craft, and experimenting with other papers suitable for printing and molding, for broadsides and bookcovers. The one of a kind covers for Conversation with Grey Wolf were made at the Green Door Studio (Burlington, VT) in 2009 from a cotton/abaca/blue iris blend.


paper mask Masks


broadside Broadsides


pulp painting Pulp Painting



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