How OHIO alum and hemp papermaker incorporates sustainability into his practice

Harmony Cardenas

Athens native and Ohio University alum Matthew Presutti has found a special way to incorporate sustainability into his printmaking processes by working with hemp. He just lately presented this insight to Ohio College learners as portion of the College or university of High-quality Arts’ Checking out Artists and Scholars application.

Presently a studio technician at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Structure, the 2005 printmaking graduate has put in the final handful of a long time establishing self-taught procedures via trial and mistake to make hemp-based mostly paper. When the Hashish Museum reached out to professor of printmaking Melissa Haviland for anyone to instruct a hemp papermaking workshop, she realized her previous student Presutti would be a excellent asset.

“He was just definitely fired up to see what sort of papers could happen, what would make the greatest papers, and how to tweak that and command that to make improved papers for printmaking,” Haviland mentioned.

While this was not his to start with time functioning with OHIO learners, owning served processed about 2,000 items of paper with OHIO honor students in 2021, Presutti stated it is even now a rather new self-control.

“It’s sort of neat to think about [how] the full hemp thing was not even a chance 4 many years back,” he mentioned. “[The Farm Bill of 2018] authorized hemp to be a lawful crop in the U.S.”

Presutti started out hemp-centered papermaking in 2019 after the papermaking method at the Milwaukee Institute of Artwork and Design and style was up and functioning. In 2017, the Institute acquired a paper beater and a letterpress printing equipment that permitted it to build its individual paper.

“A good friend of mine arrived at out to the school because they knew that we ended up executing this operate,” Presutti mentioned. “And they were like, ‘My father grew these experimental CBD plots … Do you want the biomass that was remaining about right after their harvest?’”

According to Presutti, the timing was just right for this job but soon after massive bins of uncooked resources had been dropped off to the studio, it seemed overwhelming.

“She even sent us a bunch of stuff that even now experienced the hemp bouquets on them,” he claimed. “So, we get it, and I never know what to do with all this stuff. Some of the other school members have been a tiny weirded out … like, is it illegal? It was definitely amusing.”

Presutti also described that outside the house of how new and daunting this course of action was, what is fantastic about it is obtaining the edge to make your have paper and full management more than the course of action. Due to this, printmakers can produce a bigger-excellent paper that can be applied for sculpture, printmaking and a lot more, even if the course of action usually takes a tiny lengthier.

“The process of papermaking is labor-intense,” Presutti stated.

He spent a entire day with learners just gathering the uncooked hemp substance. The next step was to soak the product in h2o and allow germs to digest it, creating the hemp fibers a lot easier to clear away.

“It normally takes a handful of times for all-natural microorganisms to get in there and start out having the lignans away that attach the bast fibers, and that can acquire up to five days,” he stated, referring to the solid odor the procedure emits. 

Future, the fibers are cooked down in a lye resolution for two to a few hrs. The cooked option then gets a pulp that can be run via machinery and dried into paper. In accordance to Presutti, this a person batch can make about 40 to 50 sheets of paper.  


Courtney Hans, a 1st-12 months scholar finding out interior architecture, attended Presutti’s open studio on April 7 mainly because she was interested in checking out all the art classes available at OHIO.

“I was not uncovered to any of it before I came here, and it is been truly entertaining to consider distinct things out,” Hans reported. “I genuinely like receiving my palms dirty and I really feel like each one time I stroll all around a further corner below, it’s a thing new.”

Jaquelee Chau, a to start with-yr MFA scholar in the printmaking plan, reported papermaking is somewhat new to her, but she enjoys the approach.

“I, individually, have not worked with hemp ahead of, and that is a entirely different fiber,” Chau mentioned. “Just observing how those people papers are turning out … even with the various treatment plans of the identical fiber, as well.”

What helps make Presutti’s process and insights utilizing hemp even additional worthwhile is his devotion to the sustainability part of it after viewing how coal mining negatively impacted the region’s environmental balance even though he was developing up.

“One of the massive points that I believe about a ton is the sustainability element,” he reported. “I’m employing [paper] as a car or truck for printing and for my individual innovative practice. What does it say if I’m able to create all of my paper … that products have been sourced in just 100 miles of in which I reside?”

He provides that he must also be conscious of his disposal of the papermaking byproducts, these as the lye alternative, that have the likely to be very destructive to the setting.

“The shop that I work at in Milwaukee, we’re suitable on the Milwaukee River so it’s already super polluted,” Presutti mentioned. “The less things I set down the drain, the better.”

He hopes the upcoming of papermaking usually means creating the same good quality paper as significant businesses but performing so in a way that encourages having obligation for the elements.

“At the close of the day, why wouldn’t we try out to develop programs that are better?” he reported.

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