St. Mary’s University was pleased to host the last artist’s workshop this past week, guided by the talented Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal. A partnership with Calgary Arts Development (CADA) enabled Tamara to open an opportunity to teach members both within and outside the StMU community. The project’s nature involved creating artisan paper, in which Tamara intends to make St. Mary’s’ eight-point star to display on campus – a location still undecided at the time of writing.

Creating the paper includes the whole process from gathering the bark and natural materials, to soaking it and adhering it together before framing it and laying it on Styrofoam to dry out. Tamara explains that there is a process from conception of the idea to display that is quite extensive and all began with thorough research. From there, she meticulously planned out each layer – from mapping the idea, gathering the materials, and transforming all the ideas into a physical product. While it may be a tall task for some, Tamara’s love for the process is what keeps her happy and motivated from the start, all the way to the finish.

Tamara clearly has a passion for art, but matching that is her passion for getting others involved into it as well. “Bringing the community into a part of the work is very important to me,” said Tamara, who was happy to talk after the conclusion of the final session. She’s excited for the members participating in the workshop to see the final product; knowing they helped add to a part of the school.

“I hope that those who have been a part of the workshops can later see the end result and feel themselves in the fabric of the community and know that they contributed to the story of St. Mary’s and the area.”

It’s quite evident the support Tamara has for the community, so it comes as no surprise that she is well-supported in return; deservedly so. The local artist in residence has tremendous gratitude for all of those that helped her along the way, who she attributes to CAD, as well as Michelle Scott and St. Mary’s President Dr. Gerry Turcotte.

Despite the summer months presenting a challenge for participation numbers due to the lower number of people on campus, Tamara’s workshop still boasted good numbers for the final project of the season. Two participants in the workshop, Taylor and Tyrell, stuck around to chat about taking part in the project. Both were curious about the project upon hearing about it, with intrigue leading to fascination when they learned the ins and outs of handmade paper making. Paper creation is unique down to each sheet and learning about this process was pretty interesting, the pair agreed.
“It was fun learning about all the different things that you can include in the pulp, of course the natural ingredients as well; it’s something you can experiment with endlessly,” said Taylor.

Adding a lasting impression to the university was well worth it too, added Tyrell.

“It feels good, I’m a Sciences student so I don’t really have the time, usually, to be able to do something like this; it feels like I’m building community a little bit here.”

With the conclusion of the workshop now needing a few days for the laid paper to set, the projects next move will be preparing the sheets into making the St. Mary’s University’s star, before adding the finishing touches in order to proudly display it on campus grounds. The handmade result will remain in the school for years to come. Keep an eye out – it’ll be on display soon!