Martha Chatelain's handmade paper is made from 100% cotton and abaca fibers. Fiber reactive dyes allow Martha to color the
wet paper pulp itself before she forms sheets of paper.
The largest sheets are created on a vacuum table, which
partially removes the water from the pulp. Martha then shapes these sheets while they are still damp; they finish drying in
Once the paper has dried Martha can enhance its surface with acrylic paints or iridescent mica powders.
Occasionally she includes other papers, such as chiri paper from Japan, or items such as twigs, dried plants, or thin sheets
Each sheet of paper takes its texture from the various textured materials laid on the surface of the
wet paper pulp before the water is extracted by the vacuum pump; materials such as bubble wrap, plastic grids, and a circular
tape drive case from an old mainframe computer, a treasure from the days when her husband Don sold IBM 360's.
The piece above is "Silence Ascending", 42x31x4, #1273.
Opposite is a detailed section of Martha's
piece "Terra Firma", showing the textures and dyes in the paper, plus iridescent paints and powders on its surface.
The thin papers in the center are made in a more traditional way, by drawing a "mould and deckle" up through a vat
of water filled with dyed fibers.
Because the pH of Martha's paper is neutral, it is considered "archival"
quality; it does not yellow over time the way highly chemically treated paper tends to do. To protect her pieces from dust,
Martha provides them in plexiglass boxes at the collector's discretion. Unframed pieces are sprayed with a matte finish acrylic
and can be dusted by blowing the dust off with a hair dryer.
Below is a view of "Terra Firma" showing
the entire piece (34x60x3 - #1190).
"Asilomar" (36x66x3) shows the large and small sheets of paper combined in a completely different way.