Helen Hiebert, “Interluceo”

Cover sitting in clamshell box covered with plum colored silk, box (fabricated by Claudia Cohen). Cover technique: pulp stenciled white cotton couched onto a gray base sheet.

In this overview, you see the colors of the rainbow, which flow through the pages (ROYGBIV). These papers are deeply pigmented abaca paper and sit behind watermarked cotton sheets, subtly illuminating them as seen in image #5.

Illuminated watermark spread: there are seven watermarked spreads, illustrating the numbers 1-7. This spread features #5 and the pentagonal shape. The small blue pentagon is hand water-colored and the large pentagonal image is a watermark, created during the papermaking process.

Cut paper spread: there are seven paper cuts in the book which were designed and hand cut by Béatrice Coron, also illustrating the numbers 1-7. This spread features the number one – the circle. The illustration shows a baby in the womb and the number 1 is hidden within the cut.

Watermark spread: the seven geometric watermarks in white cotton paper sit on top of the deeply pigmented abaca sheets, which make the watermarks appear without illumination, due to the fact that the watermarked areas are thinner than the non-watermarked areas in the sheets.


Helen Hiebert (Edwards, CO)

handmade paper, watermarking, paper cuts
Edition of 25
72 pages
Dimensions open: 9″ x 18.5″ x .75″
Dimensions closed: 9.25″ X 9.25″

The following text appears on the reflections page in the book:
Interluceo: v [L] to shine or gleam between; to be transparent; to let light through gaps. Translucent paper has mesmerized me ever since I saw papered shoji screens during a brief trip to Japan in 1988. Inspired by that trip, I found a job at a hand paper mill in New York City that was dedicated to preserving the craft of Western papermaking. There, I was drawn to the luminosity of abaca – the banana plant fiber used to create the colored papers in this book – as well as the way in which a watermark could illuminate an otherwise opaque sheet of paper.

Watermarks are mysterious, hidden within sheets of paper, often invisible until lifted to the light. An innovation as old as paper itself, watermarks originally were used as logos or symbols that identified the artisan or shop that made the sheet of paper. These maker’s marks embedded within paper result from differences in thicknesses produced by an object that is attached to the papermaking mould and protrudes into the sheet as it is formed. Historical watermarks were made with wire, and for this book I’ve used a thin rubber material.

I drew a lot as a child and have long been fascinated with paper sculpture, architecture, and the way that two-dimensional objects or drawings can be rendered in three dimensions. This transformation – a triangle becomes a pyramid, a square expands into a cube – is part of my visual vocabulary. The Latin words for some of these shapes hold interesting meanings too: orbis means world, scriptus means letter, text, line, composition and norma stands for a carpenter’s square.

Wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection, allows me to accept, even welcome, imperfection in my work. The imperfections that occur during the papermaking process, hand cutting of the watermarks and illustrations, letterpress printing and fine binding represent uniqueness and character. The paper cut illustrations in this book, by Béatrice Coron, portray the mysteries of life: a baby in the womb, a couple, a child, the child gaining strength through maturity and running to embrace life, building a home (the pentagonal shape), exploring the world and finally settling with spiritual contemplation.

Although I am not an expert on the science behind color and light, as a visual artist I explore and push the boundaries of my medium by conducting experiments and making visual associations with different materials and techniques. I continually ask myself questions like ‘How do abaca papers transmit or hold the light?’ and ‘What happens to the geometry in the paper when I turn a page in the book?’ The numbers 1-7 have many meanings: as the days of the week, as the notes in the musical scale, as the colors of the rainbow. The geometric shapes represented by these numbers progress from a point (the circle) to a seven-sided septagon; if this sequence were to continue ad infinitum, the resulting multi-sided figure with an infinite number of sides would approach the shape of the circle again, and we would either be at the beginning or the end.

Edition details: Interluceo was designed and produced by Helen Hiebert Studio in Red Cliff, Colorado. There are twenty-five copies in the edition.
Paper: a seventy-five percent cotton/twenty-five percent abaca blend paper was created to showcase the watermarks; pigmented abaca pulp created the rainbow spectrum of translucent papers.
Illustrations: Cut paper illustrations by Béatrice Coron
Letterpress printing by Tom Leech at the Press at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico from polymer plates made by Boxcar Press.
Typeface: Dante.
Binding and Box: Long stitch binding and clamshell box by Claudia Cohen, Seattle, WA.