Handmade Paper Sculptures Created by Virginia Petty at KY Artisan Center

A stack of handmade hickory bark paper alongside strips of the bark it comes from; Petty demonstrates her techniques at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea; Petty creates a handmade paper sculpture from hickory bark paper over a structure of honeysuckle vines.
A stack of handmade hickory bark paper alongside strips of the bark it comes from; Petty demonstrates her techniques at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea; Petty creates a handmade paper sculpture from hickory bark paper over a structure of honeysuckle vines.

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

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.

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

Works by Virginia Petty are regularly available at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at 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.

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