Thursday, August 11, 2022 Aug 11, 2022
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Handmade materials to make you crafty
By Sophia Dembling |

Remember grade school? Every holiday, teacher would drag out construction paper and glitter, doilies, crayons, and all-you-can-eat paste, and we would settle down to the serious fun of creating refrigerator-art, tree ornaments, cards, window decor . . . whatever. Sometimes our intentions were better than our art, but we still got that warm glow of accomplishment. And mom cherished those handmade treasures long after the paper had yellowed and the paste had cracked.

Even if grade school was the last time you made-it-yourself, step into Paper Routes at 4112 Commerce. Their extensive collection of exotic papers (never fewer than 200 types) will make your mouth water and your fingers itch to cut and paste.

A browse through Paper Routes’ wares reveals shelves of sumptuous marbled papers (both machine and hand marbled), delicate, lacy Japanese tissues, thick, 100 percent rag (as in all-cotton) handmade papers laced with gold and silver, and huge rolls of watercolor papers. There’s a paper for every need, and for needs that nobody’s even thought of yet. “The question that’s most commonly asked,” say co-owners Terri and Russell Lenoir, “is ’Whaddya do with it?’

“There are no boundaries. Paper does anything.”

With paper, paste, and acrylic polymer, Terri makes jewelry and decorates frames and tables. She makes screens and light fixtures. One delicious tissue, shot throughout with gold and silver leaf, has her trying to figure out how to use it to clothe herself.

With these papers, inspiration comes from the product. Christmas cards are a natural-anybody can cut out a fir tree. Even if your art skills are negligible, the card will be brought beyond the mundane by the paper. Try layering a lacy Japanese tissue over a colored paper for a pretty, snowy look. Or tearing your papers instead of cutting. If you’re nimble-fingered, how about origami ornaments made out of the rich, marbled papers? And don’t forget that old standard, the paper chain. Many of the papers, particularly the Japanese papers, are very sturdy.

Paper Routes’ gift shop carries a catch-as-catch-can selection of handmade cards, Russell’s handmade stationery, paper jewelry, screens, frames, and whatever else Tern’s papers inspire her to make. A sheet of the sturdy, lusciously colored “Ogura” paper, torn along a straight edge and naturally frayed, makes placemats. Smaller strips make matching napkin rings. Both are sold at the gift store outface it-it’s too easy ; not to do it yourself.

Terri is planning Saturday gift-wrap classes at the Paper Routes shop through Christmas and offers a gift-wrap service for non-do-it-yourselfers. She also hopes to start classes in general paper information, paper making at home, and hand marbling.

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