In 2012, Jenn Woodward and Gary A. Hanson started a papermaking studio. Based out of Portland, Ore., Pulp and Deckle manufactures paper and gives workshops and classes about the process. Recently, I had an opportunity to chat with Jenn about her studio.
In a paperless world, you’re making paper. What was the impetus to start such a business? A lot if it came from living here in Portland. There’s a vibrant small business culture, and there’s such an emphasis on “green.” The types of papermaking we’re doing (recycled paper, plant-based paper) is a slow, sustainable art form.
For me, a major part of the appeal is having a connection to how something is made. It transforms your understanding of it. When you go to the farmers market, or go to a woodworker’s furniture store, you’re voting with your dollars to say you want to connect with your food or your furnishings on a deeper level. You want to know who planted it, who carved it, etc. That’s what we’re all about.
I think papermaking is kind of magical. It’s one of those art forms that not many know about. I like showing people that something they take for granted in their everyday environment can be special and imbibed with meaning, beauty and purpose.
How’d you get into papermaking in the first place? I first learned about papermaking while getting my MFA at the Museum School in Boston. I was doing a lot of drawing and mixed media work and got interested in making my own surfaces to work on. I got really into making onionskin papyrus…
Last spring, my boyfriend and I moved to Cleveland from Los Angeles and decided to start a small ice cream business. I wrote a piece here describing how we were going to try to sell our ice cream at a food festival, and detailed the costs of being a vendor for two days. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write an update.
After our first event in May, we were booked six days a week, sometimes multiple times a day, at different food truck events, festivals and farmer’s markets. We made ice cream on the seventh day. We’ve been fortunate to receive an incredible amount of support from the Cleveland community, including a “best ice cream” award from a local magazine. Our business plan was to make more money than we spent, and we broke even on everything, including the purchase of secondhand commercial ice cream making equipment for approximately $8,000, before summer ended.
In September of 2013, a local ice cream shop in a walkable neighborhood of Cleveland closed. We took a look at the place, and liked both the area and the 60-year ice-cream history of the building. But was it too soon to go from our first event in May to opening a brick-and-mortar just a few months later?
(Spoiler alert: The banks think it is.)