When I pulled my first sheet of pulp from the vat, I was hooked. Like a fish that goes with gusto for the bait at the end of the hook, only to be yanked from the familiar swimming territory, I too was yanked from the familiar confusion of my life into another type of confusion – making, learning a craft, and finding some bliss.

Setting up my garage studio has taken a few days, but now it is set up, the beater is running and I have stood outside pulling pulp from the vats, which will become fresh sheets of handmade paper. I am working on the street in my apartment complex and people with inquiring minds are stopping to ask me what I am doing. My enthusiasm is like someone ready to convert souls with the “gospel of pulp;” the Street Pulp events facades for a revival to (re) ignite creativity and spend energy in making. Making place, making art, simply using a pair of hands to do something new and different.

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Approaching potential partners because of their geographic location in the Upper Peninsula, involvement in the community, access to potential participants and underserved audiences, I wanted to work with people who might be looking to be revived and engaged. Enthusiastic and curious, these partners include the John L. Dart Library (Sept 27), DwellSmart, 804 Meeting Street (Oct 11 from 10am to 2pm), James Simons Elementary School, and the Charleston Development Academy. The first two partners are public Street Pulp events; at the schools they are only for their students.

The first event was held Saturday, Sept 27 at the Dart Library. Over forty people came and got their hands wet, some even had some pulp sticking to them as they walked out the door. When I asked one young woman, who was at first only interested in what was going on and didn’t intend to pull a sheet, what she thought, she said, “I kinda like it!” She was smiling the whole time she made her piece using pulp and aquarelle pencils. Another young man made his sheet and then watched his three brothers make their sheets, looking over their shoulders and monitoring their progress.

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Last week, while the sheets from Street Pulp I dried in my fancy dryer box, I decided what needed to be tweaked, and am getting my own, recently acquired Hollander beater ready to rumble. Buying grease, sawhorses, outfitting my little garage with equipment, and bleaching the mildew that is growing on the bottom of the walls consumed my time. I have beat two loads, mopped water up from the drainless garage floor and have two box fans running at all time. Fresh sheets are again drying in my my dryer box and they will join the others to become collaborative artists’ books for the community.

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Don’t miss out on your conversion opportunity at Street Pulp, this Saturday, October 11 in the DwellSmart parking lot, 804 Meeting Street, Charleston from 10am to 2pm. The vats will have some of their pulped recycled paper and two different colors of abaca, maybe more and lots of colors to decorate sheets. Be the community that provides the energy of transformation –  pull sheets from the vats and show us your idea of creativity. I am hoping for a conversion or two as well.

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This project was funded in part by Enough Pie and the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Program through their joint administration of the Lowcountry Quarterly Arts Grant Program and the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John And Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC.

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