Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

March 6, 2014

Petty to demonstrate the making of paper sculptures

Special reports
Glasgow Daily Times

BEREA — On Saturday, Virginia Petty, of Berea and formerly of Smiths Grove, will demonstrate how she uses her handmade hickory bark paper and honeysuckle vines to create sculptures from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.

 In this demonstration, Petty will utilize both basketry and papermaking techniques.  She uses stripped honeysuckle vines as the base for her asymmetrical sculptures, filling in the spaces between the vines with her handmade hickory bark paper.

 Petty has been making handmade paper for many years and is primarily self-taught. She collects natural materials of all kinds, making paper from various plants.

Over time, she has come to prefer the paper she makes from hickory bark, using the “bast” or inner bark of the tree.

 “Nature provides a myriad of materials from which to choose. The natural curves of honeysuckle provide an interesting framework for my sculptures. The hickory bark used to make the paper for my baskets comes from a furniture maker’s scrap materials,” Petty said.

 “I cook the hickory bark for four hours in lye, beat it for four hours in a Hollander beater and pull it onto a screen, forming sheets of hickory paper that I dry in a press. These sheets are then used to cover alternate openings in my sculptures.”

 To make areas of her sculptures soft to the touch, Petty sometimes wraps it with strips of chamois. To embellish other openings in the forms, she uses artificial sinew in a knotless netting technique.

 Works by Petty are regularly available at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel information areas are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.

 The center currently features works by more than 700 artisans from more than 100 counties across the commonwealth. A special exhibit, “Repurposed and Recycled: Works by Kentucky Artisans,” is on display through Sept. 6, and “Kentucky Bourbon: Distillation and Inspiration” is on display through July 5. For more information, call 859-985-5448, or visit