Paper History Talk + Card Making Crafting at the New York Public Library, Session One

Yesterday afternoon, at 4:30pm , my cousin and I geared with almost my entire collection of A2 card stock in various colors, envelopes, stamps, glue, ink, and handmade paper from Nepal, Japan, and India entered the Pelham Bay Branch Library for an hour-long session on paper history and card making. I was covered in sweat and anxious because we got there with five minutes to spare-getting from DUMBO to Manhattan to pick up a Zipcar to then drive all the way up to the far corners of the Bronx with traffic required more than 1.5 hours. Either way, we made it and found out that they actually weren’t expecting us. Good news for us, the room was available and they were able to get about 12-13 teens in the room and ready to learn/get creative.

When I started preparing and buying for this, over a month ago, I thought within an hour I could tackle 30 minutes of paper history with another 30 minutes of hands-on card making with the teens. Instead, it was MORE card making than paper history, but I did get in a few good bits, like 10 minutes about the origins of paper and the difference between the paper we use today versus the paper first created. While, my cousin and I were hands-on, the lovely ladies who made cards (about 3 or 4 each), were independent. They drew, colored, stamped, cut, and glued to their heart’s delight.

We had one boy who came in and I believe the only reason he sat at the table as long as he did was because he has a crush on the girl he sat next to and bothered the entire time.  In the end, a few other boys came in briefly and then left quickly. The best though was the young boy, maybe five or six (I’m horrible guessing ages) who would come to the doorway and sing “The Wheels On the Bus” and dance a bit before leaving and coming back. He was precious!

Before I knew it, time ran out and it was 5:20 and time to start packing up. I was able to meet a few of the parent’s who asked what we were doing and were encouraging.  The event had gone well. By the time we walked out, a little after 5:40, I felt whole-as if my business and mission are more than making custom invites and social stationery sets for people who can afford my work. I felt like I was inspiring others, giving back, and making a difference in a bigger way.  The participating teens had all enjoyed themselves and proved to be just the jolt of energy and inspiration I needed (although, I was exhausted 20 minutes later).

This was the first of five sessions I’m doing this summer at branch locations around the City and I’m excited for the next four. I’m especially excited for the last one, which happens to be back at the Pelham Bay branch. I already told the girls to come back on August 13th and they said they would be there. I just have to figure out what to do that time that is different from this first time. I’m excited to see how my program changes over the next three months.

Oh, and my favorite part besides listening to them talk about their goals and girl things? The way they went crazy over the handmade paper from Nepal, India, and Japan that I shared with them. They touched each piece and asked if they could use them in their card creations. I couldn’t say no because the paper lover inside me was squealing with happiness. They really, made my day!

Here are some pictures from last night. Photos of the actual teens are not allowed and honestly, I was more interested in getting pictures of their work for you to see. They made some truly great cards.

Just so you know, when this came to be, I was shocked. About two months ago, I was contacted by a friend of mine who schedules events for teens for the entire library system.  What’s more, I had just finished telling a good friend that I wanted to create a paper education center. I had mapped out my three fold business plan and decided that once I learned all I could about making paper, I wanted to maintain my stationery and design company, but add a communications based division (one that focuses on tell your honest story in a meaningful way) and third, establish a community education center where paper artists, children, adults and anyone else who wants to work with paper could work, teach, and learn together. In this realm, I’d be able to include global paper artists, so maybe the women in Nepal who make handmade paper- have them teach a three-month course. Something like that. The details are still very much in the works (I’m making stuff for the Crafts in Chelsea Market this weekend, you know!), but when my friend at the New York Public Library contacted me about doing these sessions, I thanked the Universe for listening and helping me get my foot in the door.

After this first session, I can honestly say I think I’m on the right path with this threefold business plan of mine. For those of you curious about the other dates I’ll be instructing, they are below:

June 13 at the 96th Street Library at 4PM
July 18 at the Bronx Library Center at 3:30PM
July 26 at Battery Park City Library Center at 4:00PM
August 13 at Pelham Bay Library at 4:00PM

I’ll share more after each session happens. So stay tuned!


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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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