The Art of Papermaking Is On Display at @MorganPaper


Sat 11/14 & Sun 11/15 @ 10AM-4PM

OK, so harvesting marijuana legally in Ohio may be a few years off but for those folks looking to do some rolling of papers of a different sort, the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory has the perfect event.

It’s called kozo harvesting with the all-bark (no-bite) fun taking place Sat 11/14 and Sun 11/15 @ 10am-4pm at the E. 47th St. venue in Cleveland. Cool Cleveland talked to Morgan Conservatory about the century old tradition of papermaking.

Let’s start with the most obvious question. What exactly is a kozo harvest?

We have a garden and grow our own kozo fiber, which is used in the production of eastern handmade paper. We planted the gardens in 2007, so we’ve been doing it every year since then. Once a tree goes dormant, we use special clippers and cut down the limbs. We steam them, we split them open and then we have volunteers scrape that inside bark off. The inside of the bark is where the fiber is. That is cooked with soda ash and then hand-beaten. And then you can go into the process of making paper from there. The process is labor-intensive and also centuries old.

What exactly is eastern handmade paper used for?

The kozo tree is loosely related to the mulberry tree but it’s the Japanese variety. And for centuries people in the east, like Japan and Korea and Thailand, have used that fiber to create paper. You can do any kind of paper arts with it. You can use it for printing and you can use it for sculpting. It’s in shoji screens they use for windows. Really, it’s used for everything. It’s kind of endless what you can use it for.


How does the kozo tree, as well as the harvesting of its limbs for paper, fit into the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory?

Our mission is to not only preserve hand papermaking as an art form, but to expand it and keep it as a thriving art form. It’s just one of the things that we do here. We do hand papermaking, folk art, paper art and printing. For example, our resident artist Aimee Lee, who is a Fulbright scholar, created our current exhibition of artwork using that paper. She also created our eastern paper studio last year, which is the only one in the United States.

Is the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory growing in popularity?

We’ve very well known and yet we’re not. We’re known worldwide. In 2012, we hosted an international hand papermaking art conference in Cleveland. We had 280 papermakers and paper artists from seven continents come to Cleveland for a weeklong conference. So we’re well known within the arts community and then there are a lot of people who don’t know about us. We’re known as the hidden treasure of Midtown.

What type of volunteers does the kozo harvest attract?

Anybody who enjoys gardening would be fascinated by it: People who are into fiber art, artists, horticulture, the environment and just the general public who are fascinated with a reuse of urban neighborhood and vacant space. People come and go throughout the day. We have an average of 40 to 50 people come to help with the process over the two-day period.

Considering the spelling of kozo, does anyone ever come out to the event thinking they’re attending a kazoo harvest?

[laughs] No, most of the people who show up really kind of have a sense of it or want to experience it.

Um, that said, is it OK if we play a kazoo while doing the kozo harvesting?

Sure, we would love a little musical accompaniment.


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