Tom Balbo, founder of the Morgan Paper Conservatory, shows third-graders
at Hilliard Elementary School in Westlake the process of making
paper Friday afternoon. (West Life photos by Larry Bennet)
paper is messy, Hilliard students learn
By Kevin Kelley
Published March 10, 2010
Hilliard Elementary School had the benefit of an artist in residence
during their art classes recently.
Will Wilson welcomed Tom Balbo, founder and executive director of
the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation,
to his classroom last week.
which opened more than a year ago, is a nonprofit art center dedicated
to the preservation of handmade papermaking and the art of the book,
So it’s not
surprising, then, that Balbo and three assistants from the conservatory
helped the students make their own paper from scratch.
mesh screens to collect cotton fibers that had been placed in a
vat of water. The screens were then pressed onto a surface. The
still wet pulp was later taken to the conservatory and placed in
a dry box before being returned to the school a few days later.
Balbo said the
simple sheetforming assignment is a good introduction for elementary
students to paper arts.
“It’s a way
of getting kids used to and interested in the arts,” he told West
Elementary students Tommy Geirguis, Nicolas Hong and Connor
Scully watch Juma Ali scoop the paper slurry into the “frame
and deckle” while Marcus Brathwaite of the Morgan Paper Conservatory
had the option of using stencils to add various colorful designs
to their homemade sheets of paper.
has done a group project as well as lots of individual sheets,”
Wilson explained. The group project consisted of a large, 30-by-44-inch
homemade sheet of paper on which each student creatively placed
a individual stencil design.
the project was popular with most students.
“It’s a lot
messier,” he said, “so a lot of the kids like it a lot more.”
Most of the
third-grade art students observed Friday donned old shirts, and
even boots, to avoid staining their regular clothing.
Balbo, who grew
up in Lakewood and has worked as a studio artist for 30 years, leads
such projects at area schools once or twice a month, he said.
To learn more
about the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation,
located on East 47th Street in Cleveland, visit its Web site at
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