Share Your Paper Story – Jessie Houff

Women making paper

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Name and location

My name is Jessie Houff and I’m from Baltimore, MD.

What is a thing you love about paper and papermaking?

It was in my parent’s basement. I was visiting home from grad school. I had dreamed up a project in which I use handmade paper for an artist book. I grabbed an old window screen, blended up some scrap paper, and poured the mixture on the screen, which was on the floor over the drain. It was relatively unsuccessful, but I learned a lot that day! My next attempt was much more successful. It was in my tiny apartment kitchen where I used an old frame and a cookie sheet. But if it were not for that first time experimenting in the basement, I would not be where I am today!

Where do you make paper? Your kitchen? Basement? Outside? Somewhere else?

I make paper in my studio space, which is a sizable area in my home’s basement! I installed beautiful double doors that overlook my backyard where on a pretty day I’ll make paper outside. I have a big table in the center of the room to do my papermaking with vats and pulps. To the left of my table are two large shelving units that house my containers, pelons (couching sheets), and press. Next to that is an area for my drying system. It’s a box fan sitting on a chair that sits behind a small rolling table on which I put my press (that is also my drying box). I have a section for my large trash bin on rollers for bigger projects and adjacent to that are my rain boots.

What are some things you like to do with your paper once it’s made? Cards? Crafts? Something else?

I use my paper as pages and decoration for my handmade journals, drawings that I do for commissions, printmaking for my lino and wood cuts, and fine art artist books. I also sell individual sheets of paper at markets and soon online.

Tell us your favorite Arnold Grummer product and how you first learned about the company.

I first learned about Arnold Grummer in grad school. I don’t remember exactly where I heard about the company but I do remember my roommate and I watching many of his older papermaking videos on YouTube. Watch Arnold Grummer Videos HERE! My favorite product that I have of theirs is the paper press. I purchased the Economy Jack Press Frame and I love it. Check out Arnold Grummer’s presses HERE! It presses my paper beautifully and I also use it as my drying box by setting it up in front of a box fan and enclosing the sides. I also use it for my workshops. It’s very durable and a true companion for my papermaking journey!

Share a thought, bit of advice, or encouragement for someone interested in trying papermaking.

Start! Experiment! There are endless possibilities for making papers. The more I make, the more I wish to learn. I am constantly learning from other papermakers on the internet (through Instagram, mostly) and I hope to be more involved in the community. So for beginners, just start. Grab a blender and get to making something. It doesn’t have to be a grand work of art, but whatever you make will be something that wasn’t in this world before. The more you make, the more you’ll learn! Check out the Arnold Grummer’s Papermill kit ON SALE!

To see more of Jessie’s work, follow her on Instagram @jessiehouffart, and on her website

2 thoughts on “Share Your Paper Story – Jessie Houff

  1. Jessie, thanks so much for sharing your paper story. The jumbo star book in the last photo is amazing and I love the vibrant colors of your handmade papers. Please consider entering one or two of your pieces in Arnold Grummer’s Paper On The River handmade paper exhibit this fall. We’d love to feature your work. Regardless, thanks for posting here, we look forward to following you online! Kim

    1. Kim, thank you so much for your comment! I would love to submit my pieces for the show you mentioned. I will certainly be submitting my work for the fall exhibit!

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