Photo: Das biergarten. Courtesy of Facebook user Alan Bowser.

Photo: Der biergarten. Courtesy of Facebook user Alan Bowser.

The kegger sprouted Sunday from a South Silver Spring sidewalk, and it soon bloomed into a full biergarten with thumping beats and a bumping crowd.

The Buy Local Silver Spring block party pulled an estimated 350 people into the Arts Alley (more…)

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The Watercooler

While all the cool kids were kicking it (figuratively and literally) on Ellsworth Drive Saturday, supporters of Silver Spring’s capitalist cause were swinging into tee-shirt season at Pyramid Atlantic

The Buy Local Silver Spring initiative, a booster club for the hood’s independently owned retailers, sponsored a workshop that allowed participants to screen print a design onto tee shirts. About 20 people squeegeed ink through a nylon stencil and now rock the exclusive Buy Local Silver Spring design.

The graphic, which was selected from 20 submissions to a design contest, features the silhouette of a sword-wielding, bag-toting master of martial arts and encourages people to be “shopping ninjas”. Its designer was an anonymous Silver Spring resident who chose to donate part of the prize — a $50 gift certificate to Plaza Art Supplies — to the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center.

The next Buy Local Silver Spring event is in the cooker and will be announced soon. The Silver Spring Penguin is the initiative’s official online media partner.

Photos by R. Pace and J. Deseo for The Penguin.

Art: The drip and squish before you cut and paste

The first-floor papermaking shop inside the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center is less like an art studio, more like a car wash. Water drips from the workbenches. Rubber rain boots squeak against the slick concrete floor. It’s a drippy start to the creative process.

But what eventually springs from a thin slurry of water and pulp is a crisp, durable sheet of paper. Keyword: eventually.

In the meantime, artisans in rubber smocks sift through deep trays of water, panning for just enough pulp to coat a framed screen. When the screen emerges from the deep, it’s covered in a layer of mushy lint (below).


“It’s a pretty physical thing,” Gretchen Schermerhorn, who teaches papermaking 101 at Pyramid Atlantic, explains as she wades her forearms into a slurry-filled basin.

The screen is then slammed onto blotting material to dislodge the lint (below). After drying for a day or two, voila! The paper’s ready to roll.


Unlike the flimsy white sheets spit out by a common copier, handmade paper feels more like fabric. “Handmade paper is quite strong,” Beth Ann Kyle, Pyramid Atlantic’s office manager at the time, explains. “It holds quite well.”

It’s no wonder when one considers the material that goes into handmade paper. Cotton is used in Pyramid Atlantic’s introductory classes, resulting in opaque paper with a familiar cloth-like quality.

However, more advanced students might use abaca (a banana-like plant), agave (used for brewing tequila), or the roots of a mulberry species. One artisan with Pyramid Atlantic’s papermaking club hopes to make edible paper from mint.

Paper at the art center also is made from recycled materials, namely old tee shirts and blue jeans, though Schermerhorn once made paper from her grandmother’s aprons, as well as shredded dollar bills discarded by the US Treasury.

It’s all about experimentation, Kyle says. Through trial and error, one learns how thick to lay the mushy lint, or how to swirl color into the sheet using concentrated pulp (below).


“It’s more of a craft,” explains one artisan and papermaking club member. “You make something artistic without even knowing it.”

And perhaps the best part: “You don’t need to know how to draw,” Kyle says.

Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, 8230 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, (301) 608-9101.

Photos by Jennifer Deseo for The Silver Spring Penguin. Published originally on Aug 22, 2007.

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