“Obsessed with paper”- a frank admission from someone describing herself as a “maker” and who fascinated us with her knowledge of the ingenious uses of a substance we all take for granted.

Clare’s career covered graphic design, making paper toys and publishing greeting cards and after a break for a family, she worked for The Somerset Guild of Craftsmen teaching adult education classes. Moving back to Dorset, she has spent the last 10-15 years expanding her use of paper in many different ways.

Paper is not just tree but plant based – especially on cotton – and Watchet harbour in Somerset was once a major importer of cotton rag for local paper mills. After exploring using dew-wetted flax, she discovered that her family had also once used flax in the past, for rope-making.

She introduced us to Abaca – a banana-like plant used for paper towels, and showed us how to cut and twist a sheet of paper towel into a string ready to knit or crochet. She showed us papermache “pebble” boxes – with plaster and other substances added to the paper mix to create very natural-looking stones, and a beautifully soft silky scarf, actually made from paper cloth. Plant cellulose is very tough and not as inflammable as man-made fibres and can be washed and coloured.

Clare finished with a demonstration of paper flower making, recommending Italian crepe paper as being more stretchy and colourfast than our usual British variety and floristry websites as a useful source.

Clare runs the Gallery of Makers at the Broadwindsor Craft Centre.