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A Brief History Of PaperWorks

In November of 1993, the Southern Arizona Scribes sponsored a non-adhesive book class with Carol Pallesen from Reno, Nevada. This was Mabel Dean’s first bookmaking class and she fell in love with sewing paper and making books. The following spring she created a flyer inviting folks interested in making books to join her at her studio. About eight people responded and soon they were meeting at Mabel¹s studio every month, taking turns teaching each other how to make books. It wasn’t long before they started referring to themselves as “T-Bag” (Tucson Book Arts Group).

As Mabel became more skilled at making books, she started teaching others. Her students wanted opportunities to connect with other book artists, but there was no organization available to them. So, in October 2000, Mabel decided to see if there was enough interest to form a new Tucson arts organization. Karen Green, Director of the Muse, generously offered a meeting place and Mabel put together a postcard inviting those interested in forming a book and paper artists group to a first meeting. About twenty-five people showed up. They broke into groups and brainstormed over what such an organization should be like. Volunteers offered to help draft a set of by-laws. Once these were completed, a second meeting was held on January 21, 2001, and PaperWorks, the Sonoran Collective for Paper and Book Artists, was born. Forty people attended and signed on as charter members, and, by the end of the first year membership had swelled to over 100 artists.

The first board of Directors consisted of Mabel Dean, Betsy Farmer, Connie Kampsula, Vanessa Dearing, Mary Ann Walter, Barbara Lewis, Curt Dornberg, Diane Pollack, and Terry Enfield. The first PaperWorks Journal was published informally on several sheets of paper shortly after the initial meeting. The Journal is now a quarterly literary journal about the book and paper arts. The organization created a monthly email newsletter, The PaperWorks Enews, providing event information and special announcements.

Mabel¹s original vision for PaperWorks was modeled after the Santa Fe BAG (Book Arts Group), of which her sister is a member. It was her desire that PaperWorks be an organization for all book and paper artists, including hobby artists, serious artists, and professional artists. She wanted the members to be able to come together and learn from each other at meetings, workshops and in salon settings. This is very much in concert with her personal life goal, to get people involved in making art and experiencing the joy and satisfaction that comes from the creative process.

PaperWorks’ membership has grown over the years. Our workshops, salons, and meeting presentations showcase talented artists within our membership and from around the country. Our InOverMyHead collaborative learning groups, (Photoshop, Altered Books, Mixed Media, Paper Sculpture, Complex Surfaces, Book Creation, etc.), have enabled members to expand their art horizons in a supportive and challenging environment. Our special events have increased membership exposure to the Tucson community through juried shows and exhibits. And our website, http://www.paperworks,.info has created a platform to promote PaperWorks and its members to an ever expanding audience.