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The Endless Possibilities of


by Kimberly Sherman Leon Founder and President

“Japan has a long history of paper culture. This ancient art form began 2,000 years ago. Many of today’s handmade papers are a mixture of traditional and contemporary techniques,” says Lauren Pearlman, owner of Paper Connection International, an exclusive American supplier of papers imported from Tosa Washi (washi means paper in Japanese) and 13 other countries. Since 1995, Paper Connection has been an incredible resource for all kinds of papers and projects.

As Lauren begins to share all the different types of paper she has on display, I’m so impressed with the quality and creativity of each sheet and design. The stories behind them, how they were made and what they were used for, are fascinating. “Our customers use our papers in so many creative ways. From wearables to wall coverings, bookbinding, stationary and invitations, conservation and repair, fine art, photography, graphic and interior design, and even product design; i.e., lighting, room dividers… I once read about a paper-racing bicycle! Basically, if you can dream it you can make it with paper, especially if it’s a well-made paper.” The paper that she provides is extremely well made and nothing but the best. Listening to Lauren, you can hear the passion she has for paper and the creative industry.

I asked Lauren just how paper became her passion? “As far back as I can recall when I was 6 or 7 years old, maybe even younger, I began collecting ephemera,” replied Lauren. “I started with antique labels, antique postcards, stamps, matchboxes, and mini paper umbrellas – leftover from adults’ fancy drinks. Around that same time, I made my own-collaged cards for friends and family. Today, my personal card collection is large enough to have a separate card shop.

Meeting with Lauren in her Providence location, I am in complete heaven surrounded by all the fascinating patterns, textures, and colors and of course the smell of these specialty papers. Lauren admits she is a bit of a ‘fiber-sniffer’ herself.

28 | Rhode Island Creative Magazine

While living in Japan in the 1980’s, the paper collection grew. I added papier-mâché dolls, like etoningyou- zodiac animals. My stationery collection soon expanded from postcards to small sheets of chiyogami. It was almost a coincidence, however, just before moving back to the US, that I went to a papermaking village in Kagawa-Pref., Shikoku

Photos taken by RICM staff.

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