Papering At the Morgan

June 22nd, 2012 Posted in Antiques and Vintage, Art, Downtown, East Side, Galleries/Museums/Exhibits, handmade paper, Schools, Sustainable Design, Textiles

You can’t help but get caught up in the excitement once you step through the doors of The Morgan (The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Education Foundation), a non-profit art center dedicated to the preservation of handmade paper making and the art of the book. The Morgan Conservatory, named for Charles “Ted” Morgan, an enthusiastic Cleveland supporter of the arts, opened its doors in 2008, the result of a collaboration between its visionary, Cleveland artist Tom Balbo and Ted Morgan.

The large building itself is a wonderful example of re-purposing; built in the 1930′s, the former machine shop was renovated in 2006 to accommodate a large gallery as well as the paper making and print areas.  Evidence is everywhere of the Conservatory’s commitment to recycling, with many found and donated items used not only for its construction, but also for equipment used in its papermaking and printing. Gazing in any direction, one can see antique, wood print cases, large presses and huge rollers that you know were not created recently. Even the 15,000 square foot roof and its gutters are drained to capture rainwater for use in the garden and paper making. 

The garden in the back of the building is just as impressive as the building itself, especially when you realize that it was just an abandoned, weed-filled lot previously. In 2007, the Conservatory was sent a collection of Kozo (a non-invasive Japanese mulberry tree cultivar) cuttings from the University of Iowa Center for the Book. Kozo was chosen as one of the renewable sources to produce the fine paper; paper pulp is created by harvesting its bark. The cuttings have since grown and the garden expands each year. Ironically, The Morgan was able to replenish the University of Iowa with Kozo after they lost their plants to the floods two years ago.

The Morgan is a teaching museum and offers a large selection of classes, including creating handmade paper using the harvested Kozo, bookmaking and book repair, printmaking, letterpress and paper marbling. It offers two artist residency positions to qualified students interested in traditional Eastern and Western papermaking. The Conservatory is also a professional paper mill, creating a vast array of papers for custom orders. It receives assistance by many artists, interns and volunteers.

The Morgan is celebrating its fifth birthday in a big way by hosting the Watermarks 2012 Conference from October 17-21, 2012. This international conference will include an array of papermaking workshops and demonstrations, along with lectures, exhibitions and museum tours. You can find more information and register at Watermarks 2012.


An antique copper press


A deckle screen prepared for watermarking

One Response to “Papering At the Morgan”

  1. [...] (and the country’s) handmade paper making expert and founder of The Morgan (The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Education Foundation), Tom Balbo, now has a fascinating display at Cleveland Artists Foundation‘s Gallery in [...]

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