Students relieve stress through papermaking


Nimisha Singh

The Peace Paper Project makes use of the ancient art of paper making as a channel for personal expression and socio-cultural change. The project is worldwide, uniting people from all walks of life.

A creative way to relieve stress made its way to the University this week.

Unit One at Allen Hall is hosting the Peace Paper Project, which is a workshop that incorporates an ancient tradition, papermaking, into self-healing. It is also a way to engage in trauma therapy, social engagement and community activism through creativity.

Drew Mattot, director of the Peace Paper Project, said that hundreds of students are participating in the activity.

“It’s a really social activity,” Mattot said. “Students are coming in and learning about the project, making paper and bringing their friends back with them.”

During the papermaking process, participants are able to incorporate their personal stories in the creation of their work of art. The activity inspires change within an individual’s meaning process through the creative process.

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“It’s very gratifying,” Mattot said. “The activity is very psychically grounding and can help reduce stress.”

Grey Sherwin, sophomore in LAS, said he loved the project as a break from school work.

“I was under a lot of stress and as soon as I did it, it helped me release it all,” Sherwin said. “I’ve made quite a few pieces of paper and some wallets that I plan on sending to friends and family.”

Mattot believes that by the end of the week, 1,500 sheets of paper will be made.

The workshop also offers activities that allow participants to collaborate while engaging in writing, bookmaking and printmaking. This collaboration encourages individuals to heal as a group.  

Laura Haber, program and academic director for Unit One, said in an email that the program also incorporated clothing into the process of making paper.

“Peace Paper Project transforms significant articles of clothing and other plant fibers into paper, using papermaking as trauma therapy and community activism,” Haber said. “They also transform paper into clothing, looking at the life cycle of clothing, from plant fibers to design and production, and following the pathways of waste that are ending the fiber cycle.”

Mattot described the project as a “fun and forgiving activity.”

“We’ve had a number of students who have thanked us for helping them loosen up around midterms,” Mattot said. “It can really help people through a hard week.”

The Peace Paper Project has worked closely with community leaders, mental health professionals and art therapists to conduct over two hundred workshops worldwide since 2011.

“I decided to start doing this because it is very therapeutic and community-based,” said Jules Sanchez, sophomore in LAS. “I also liked that it is not for profit or consumer-based.”

The workshop is available to the public until Oct. 5 at 9 p.m.

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