Brooklin artisan Gigi Sarsfield’s illuminated lampshades enliven the window at the Island Institute’s Archipelago store in Rockland. The lamp bases were made by New Gloucester woodworker Lou Charlett and Brooklin potter Lynn Curran. IMAGES COURTESY GIGI SARSFIELD

Paper trail: Artisan makes her own raw material for lampshades

BLUE HILL — The art of paper-making dates back to about AD 105 when an Imperial Court of China officer, Ts’ai Lun, created a sheet of paper combining mulberry and fibers from old rags, fish nets and hemp. The ancient craft is still practiced and takes the form of lampshades and other fine paper goods in Brooklin.

For nearly 30 years, artisan Virginia “Gigi” Sarsfield has made delicate and vibrant-hued lampshades as well as archival-quality, artist-grade papers at Hand Papers in Brooklin. She also makes paper for book artist Joelle Webber, who uses it in her handmade books. From May 2 through July, Gigi’s work will be on view and for sale in the Howard Room glass cases at the Blue Hill Public Library.

Gigi’s favorite papermaking fibers are the Asian kozo from the paper mulberry tree and the South American abaca plant (manila hemp). She customizes her lampshades with vibrant colors or by “adding inclusions from my walks in the woods or along the shore — bits of cattail tuft, fallen lichens, or Irish moss.”

As part of the show, visitors can watch via their phones an online video showing the paper-making process while viewing the exhibit. The show is available for viewing in the Howard Room subject to the meeting room schedule. A portion of proceeds from sales will benefit the library.

For more information, call 374-5515.

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