This whole social media thing might take off. While visiting family in southeast Ohio, I posted to my personal Instagram account a photo of the word “OHIO” printed over a faux wood grain on a cigar box. Out of nowhere came an invitation in my Instagram comments to visit the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio. Not one to ignore an invitation to explore anything related to letterpress and the book arts, I gladly accepted.
The kind person who invited me was Mason Milani, lead papermaker at the Morgan Conservatory. On an unusually brisk July afternoon, my wife and I dropped in at the former metal machining shop on the east side. Mason was in the process of hanging a new show, “Revive and Renew: Contemporary Artists & Eastern Papers,” in the spacious gallery. Ready with a smile, Mason showed us Morgan’s letterpress shop, complete with the largest Vandercook I’ve seen to date. Next to some unassuming Hamilton type cabinets was a 6-foot-tall wooden cabinet holding side-grain wood type of enormous proportions. Dotted throughout the shop were letterpress-printed posters.
The Morgan Conservatory was founded to conserve the production of hand papermaking and the art of the book. Toward that end, the balance of the warehouse is devoted to such. Behind the building, one finds paper mulberry trees that are grown and harvested by Morgan volunteers to make paper. What? Yes, Morgan is growing its own raw material for making paper.
While on tour, we met the energetic founder and executive director, Tom Balbo, whose vision brought all this to the greater Cleveland area in 2006.
Morgan Conservatory sells its paper in a small retail shop at the front of the building and on Etsy.
After a fun-filled hour, we left for Rochester. If ever you’re in Cleveland, check out this book arts jewel.
Thanks, Mason, for the invitation and tour.