Interview with Weaving Paper Artist Julie VonDerVellen

Interview with Weaving Paper Artist Julie VonDerVellen

You may be familiar with the incredible woven paper shoes that Julie VonDerVellen created a while back. I’m excited to showcase a familiar feature this time around to give a more in depth look into her background and how she came to this very delicate paper craft. Within this interview are some of her latest works, a clock series, woven tapestries and of course the shoes from her earlier work. Through her art, she experiments with various techniques that require hours of problem solving to achieve the results that hold true to the nature of her unique storytelling.

Interview with Weaving Paper Artist Julie VonDerVellen

“My research explores the traditional book structure and storytelling presentation. Through a process of interlacing objects with narratives, my paper weaving technique attempts to redefine the commonplace book format. Each piece is crafted from paper – directly relating to the foundation of the book structure. Pages, bindings, and chapters are folded within each piece to represent the continuous possibilities of how narratives and memories are told.” –Julie VonDerVellen

Tell us a little more about your background – what path led you to what you are doing now?
I received a BS from Edgewood College and my MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During graduate school, I took courses such as letterpress printing, papermaking, and artists’ books. It was during that time that I began working with paper as a sculptural material. My goal was to redefine the commonplace book structure. I created pieces that told or evoked narratives of significant moments in my life or in the lives of friends and family. My work has revolved around this concept ever since and I continue to explore the seemingly endless possibilities of the material.

Weaving seems to be a key characteristic in your works, how did you come upon this technique?

I came upon this approach through trial and error. I was searching for a method to make the paper more structurally sound. Weaving essentially left me with two sheets, bound together, but appeared as one. I start each piece with this plaiting technique. It jumpstarts my process and once it is completed I use the weaving as the sculptural foundation.

Interview with Weaving Paper Artist Julie VonDerVellen

What have been some favorite recent projects/clients/collaborations and why?
I moved into a studio at RedLine Milwaukee about a year ago and the experience has been very beneficial for me. For instance, it has allowed me to meet many other like-minded, creative individuals within my community. My studio space has opened my mind to generating larger-scale work, which has been an exciting exploration. I’ve experimented with various materials and processes; I’m very excited with the results and eager to see how the work will continue to evolve.

Recently, I have been weaving paper on a loom. I utilize thread as the warp and paper as the weft. Through this process the paper transforms and has an alluring textile-like quality. Debit or Credit (featured in the two images directly below), uses this technique and is constructed entirely from receipts from art supplies purchases and other necessities (such as groceries.) The receipt paper is glued to handmade paper, cut into strips, and then woven back together.

Interview with Weaving Paper Artist Julie VonDerVellen

What is the average time for a piece from start to finish?

Each piece is unique and I typically lose track of how many hours, days, or months I’ve dedicated to the work. I would estimate two – three weeks for a piece. Smaller works might be completed within a couple of days. There are days when I work on something for only 20 minutes and other days where I can submerse myself in the process for over 10 hours.

Interview with Weaving Paper Artist Julie VonDerVellen

Are you involved in any upcoming shows or events? If so, where and when?


Yes, please join us!

Timeline, RedLine Milwaukee
July 22 – October 1, 2016.
This is RedLine Milwaukee’s annual artist in residence exhibition. There will be nine participating artists.

En Route, Alfons Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
January 15 – March 15, 2017
This will be a solo exhibition of new and previous works.

Interview with Weaving Paper Artist Julie VonDerVellen
Interview with Weaving Paper Artist Julie VonDerVellen

If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I have so many answers to this question. I would love a studio visit, conversation, and/or an opportunity to collaborate with artists, authors, and designers such as Tara Donovan, Mark Bradford, Alexander McQueen, Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, or Milton Glaser. It would be incredible to meet Bauhaus textile designer Gunta Stölzl too. I find inspiration in each of the artist’s works, techniques, concepts, and philosophies.

What is the weirdest thing you have ever done with paper?

I’ve worn it! I made many paper garments in graduate school and tried them all on at one point or another. Paper is not very comfortable — nor is it easy to move in!

Interview with Weaving Paper Artist Julie VonDerVellen

If your work had a soundtrack, what songs would be on it?

My artwork doesn’t necessarily have a soundtrack, but I definitely have a go-to playlist while I work. I listen to artists such as Kaleo, Lord Huron, The Head and the Heart, The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers, Brandi Carlile, and a little Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats too.

Is there anymore information you would like to share with our viewers?
I typically post my work-in-progress images on Instagram. Feel free to follow me @jvondervellen. That’s the best place to keep up with current projects and exhibitions.

Interview with Weaving Paper Artist Julie VonDerVellen

Thank you Julie for taking the time to answer our questions and share your work with us. If you ever get a chance to exhibit in New York, definitely let me know! I would love to see your works in person. To our viewers, be sure to post below with your thoughts and if you know of any artists that work in the realm of paper that you would like to be interviewed be sure to shoot us an e-mail.

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