Fun with paper

Tanya Schwartz-Roeper, right, and son Oliver display projects made at a previous “Papermaking Party.” Schwartz-Roeper is offering Papermaking Parties again this summer by appointment. submitted photo

by Joe Schulz

When Tanya Schwartz-Roeper got an Arnold Grummer Papermaking kit for Christmas 25 years ago, it set off a fire inside of her and she fell in love with papermaking. 

“I was hooked on papermaking after making my first sheet of paper because there’s just endless possibilities,” Tanya said. 

She shared her passion for papermaking from her home, teaching classes and leading workshops.

“It would go on in spurts because there was so much equipment and it took over the entire kitchen and the entire dining room,” Tanya said. “I would have a few days of making paper, and then have to put everything away so I could get my house back.”

In 2014, Tanya moved her papermaking operation into a studio in Town Square, which gave her ample space to offer papermaking workshops and showcase her work. 

“Having this studio space at Town Square just opened up so many more possibilities where I could experiment with larger sheets of paper and teach papermaking to children and adults,” she said.

This summer, Tanya is offering workshops for children called “Papermaking Parties.” She describes the parties as a “fun, hands-on, and a creative opportunity for children.”

“This is science. You’re turning scrap paper back into pulp and the cellulose plant material is what brings it all back together again,” Tanya said. “It’s incredible. It’s so much fun and it’s so rewarding because I’m using mostly recycled paper.”

Tanya noted Papermaking Parties are designed to keep children learning during the summer months and can be set up by appointment for $15 per kid.

“It requires a tremendous amount of setup,” she said. “That’s why I need to know a little bit in advance, so I can cover everybody because there’s a lot of equipment that’s needed for papermaking.”

When papermaking, many materials can be used, including old homework assignments, leaves, flowers pedals, newspaper clippings and other scrap papers. 

She noted workshops generally last about 90 minutes as some children make multiple small sheets of paper, while others work on more elaborate projects.

“Every sheet of paper is an experiment,” Tanya said. 

Since that fateful Christmas 25 years ago, she’s taught classes for folks ranging from 5 to 95 years old. 

For Tanya, the rewarding part of offering papermaking workshops is to see the light bulb go off for others as they discover the endless possibilities.

Tanya Schwartz-Roeper pours paper pulp into a mold as she makes a piece of paper. Joe Schulz photo

“You’ll have success after making the first piece of paper; it’s instant success and once you make that first sheet, there are so many more creative possibilities,” she said. “It’s so much fun to see other people discover those possibilities.”

Tanya grew up in an artistic family as her father is the late Lester Schwartz, known for his unique paintings and sculptures. 

Her father’s passion for art rubbed off on his children. One of Tanya’s sisters is a photographer, while papermaking has been an outlet for Tanya’s creativity. 

Working on art helps Tanya find balance in life, giving her an opportunity to escape and express herself. 

“We all need balance,” she said. “We’re just so focused on the busyness of our lives and when it comes to a creative endeavor, whether it’s painting, sculpture, pottery or papermaking, it creates such joy and peace.”

She hopes to continue sharing the sense of joy and peace she derives from papermaking with others for the foreseeable future. 

“To see somebody come in, whether it’s a child or adult, and say, ‘I’m just not creative, I don’t think I can do this.’ And to see them make that first sheet of paper and become inspired is just amazing,” Tanya said. “There’s something about being in the studio and giving a demonstration on how to make paper and then being able to guide others through the process that gives me a lot of satisfaction and energy.”

Those interested in scheduling a Papermaking Party can call Town Square at 920-807-0156.