‘Obsessed with paper’

ARTIST Clare Colby is ‘obsessed with paper’ – so much so it formed the subject of her recent demonstration for Lyme Regis Art Society.

Clare described herself as a ‘maker’ and fascinated society members with her knowledge of the ingenious uses of a substance we all take for granted.

Her career covered graphic design, making paper toys and publishing greeting cards, and after a break for a family, she worked for The Devon Guild and Craftsmen teaching adult education classes.

Moving back to Dorset, she has spent the last 10 to 15 years expanding her use of paper in many different ways.

Paper is not just tree but plant based, especially on cotton, and Watchet harbour in Somerset was once a major importer of cotton rag for local paper mills.

After exploring using dew-wetted flax, she discovered that her family had also once used flax in the past, for rope-making. She introduced members to Abaca, a banana-like plant used for paper towels, and showed them how to cut and twist a sheet of paper towel into a string ready to knit or crochet.

She also showed her papermache ‘pebble’ boxes with plaster and other substance added to the paper mix to create very natural-looking stones, and a beautifully soft silky scarf, actually made from paper cloth. Plant cellulose is very tough and not as inflammable as man-made fibres, and can be washed and coloured.

Clare finished with a demonstration of paper-flower making, recommending Italian crepe paper as being more stretchy and colourfast than our usual British variety, and floristry websites as a useful source.

Lyme Regis Art Society meets on alternate Tuesdays in the Woodmead Halls from 2pm to 4pm until the end of March. Visitors and new members are always welcome – for further details visit www.lymeregisartssociety.org.uk

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Woodmead Halls