Welcome to 2016! We made it! 2015 was an extraordinary year for petrichorpaper and I couldn't thank you all enough for the love and support. Everyday keeps getting better and better. So I thought I should begin the post with a Top 10 list of year's past, present and future.
Top 10 moments of 2015:
1. WNYBAC's workshops - The Western New York Book Arts Center has done a great deal for me in terms of opportunities and has helped make this year into the success that it was. They have taken me on as a workshop instructor for papermaking classes & field trips, master teaching artist for the ArtWorks program along with a variety of vendor events. Through these opportunities I've made incredible contacts that have only furthered this establishment that is petrichorpaper. WNYBAC, thank you for being such a vital part of making 2015 as wonderful as it was.
2. Commissions - 2015 saw in an increase in custom orders. Not at all swamped but the number is a lot better than zero! Dandelion, coffee, rose petals, heart-shaped just to name a few.
3. Testing various techniques - I was finally able to begin testing a variety of pulp manipulation. Nothing new in the paper world just in this mill. Last year I was able to test out natural dyes (dandelions were a major success), watermarks, larger sheets, drying techniques (the summer allows for 100% solar drying). Again, nothing new but all of this can be done at the paper mill without question.
4. Fully operating equipment - the hot drum dryer AND the beater are both alive and well. With some rewiring and cleaning up these babies are now ready for action.
5. Surviving countless temporary set-ups in the mill/house - yes, for those of you unaware that the mill is in my home it is. A home that was a dump when purchased but transforming into quite the charmer. My partner and I have been doing all of the construction ourselves and learning a remarkable amount of housing skills such as masonry, electric, plumbing, roofing...all sorts of fun and not-so-fun rehab skills. And then I had to go and throw a paper mill into the mix. So with the bustling year that 2015 was the paper set-up was constantly moving from room to room to even outside for its operation. From frozen felts and icy presses to what will be its sole location in the next month or two. Yippee!
6. ArtWorks program - This!!! A true highlight of the year and of my own personal life. The Young Audiences of Western New York organized a program that welcomes at-risk teenagers from the Buffalo area and introduces them to the arts on a professional level. Those accepted into the program were taught a variety of art skills (in WNYBAC's case it was papermaking, bookbinding & printmaking), educational skills (library introduction, college resources) and professional skills (for many this was their first job so professionalism was an absolute requirement). For two weeks I taught ten students paper and book skills. Probably the most rewarding two weeks I've ever had. I don't know if any of them still think about that time but I sure do and hope they took away a lot more than a few sheets of paper.
7. Dried daylily paper - this line of paper will become a seasonal staple. I am very proud of this batch.
8. Vendor sales - a huge part of what made 2015 so successful. The first one of the season, Small Press Book Fair, nearly sold me out in the first day down to the final one of the year Last Minute Panic Sale which just about did the same. Yes there were ups and downs but I learned a lot from a business standpoint that will only make 2016 even better.
9. Banff - this one is an emotional one. The best part of the year for me. Petrichorpaper had been "operating" for at least two years by this point and every day still left me wondering/doubting whether or not I could make this happen. Whether or not people would care enough to invest in me. Whether or not all this hard work was for naught. I certainly don't know what the future holda for the paper mill and quite frankly if it all goes downhill from here at least I had this moment. In Banff, a place I'd always wanted to go, was the Friends of Dard Hunter paper conference. I decided I HAD to attend and registered which wasn't exactly cheap coming out of my meek business account. As it would so happen I was able to register for the conference, register to become a member of the organization holding the conference, pay for the fuel to get us to Banff (yes, we drove from Buffalo to Banff), pay for a 3-night stay at a hotel downtown and pay for meals on the way to Banff. And not a single penny from my own pocket covered it. It was all money I had earned through petrichorpaper. I was able to fully fund a trip I'd always wanted to go on by doing what I love to do (and with a full-time job on the side and rehabbing a house this was not an easy task). If anything made me feel accomplished and proud of the my work and the struggle that comes with it it was this trip. I was able to make this happen because I didn't give up on myself despite the countless number of times I had wanted to. Needless to say when I sat on the side of the river taking this picture with tears streaming down my face I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I will never fully be able to express.
10. Another year that the IRS cannot call this a mere hobby - I made it through 2015 stronger than ever that even the IRS cannot rule out petrichorpaper as a hobby. That is a major success considering you have 5 years to prove that your start-up is a worthy enough financial endeavor for them.
Top 10 of 2016:
1. The paper mill will be open...for real!!! I am taking January and February off to direct my complete attention to the house in order to get this baby rolling. Also because it will be nice to have nice house functions - like hot water and a full size refrigerator. Due to the size of the space it will be appointments only. But since I live here that means it can be available most days of the week!
2. Sponsor @ Small Press Book Fair. It is my first time sponsoring an event which feels like a big deal for me. It's probably not but it is to me.
3. New line of paper and paper products. I don't know exactly what they are yet but you can count on a variety of natural dyes, inclusions locally harvested, locally harvested fibers, variety of art papers (printmaking, watercolour & calligraphy are the goals), sketchbooks, lamps, stationery kits.
4. A variety of new workshops will be available such as a Valentine Papermaking (paper heart) theme and seed paper. Thinking about approaching the Buffalo Zoo about a possible Poo Paper workshop! Also keep a lookout for workshops at Tifft this year.
5. Yes, seed paper will become a thing this year. I will be welcoming seed paper into my production list but will be doing plenty of research in terms of invasive plants.
6. Consigment shops. I will finally be getting products prepped and ready to distribute to a number of local shops to sell. If you or anyone you know of that would like to sell any of my products feel free to contact me with consignment information.
7. Weddings. A couple of people have contacted me in regards to wedding stationery and I will gladly take on those projects. I am currently weighing my options of entering into the Buffalo & Rochester Indie Wedding Vendor options but financially this may not be the year. Who knows though!
8. Conferences in Santa Fe, New Mexico & Brazil. Sadly, I will not be making either of them as I will be taking a personal trip to Europe this fall (but you can count on some paper visits happening while I'm there!)
9. A lofty idea but one I am greatly considering is a retail space. I've always wanted to run my own shop and not just when I'm at home before heading off to another full-time job. The window displays, seasonal shopping, workshops and studio work....again just like the wedding vendor it is a bit of an investment that I will have to be more certain I can make.
10. Paper and print collaboration. This year you will see a lot more print going on these sheets. More fine art on only handmade paper. It will be a personal guarantee of the paper quality. Plus the print will bring out some of the life of the paper.
Wishing you all the best of new year's!