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Daily Inspiration: Meet Marie Kelzer


Today we’d like to introduce you to Marie Kelzer.

Hi Marie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I grew up on a dairy farm in Minnesota and did cooking, cleaning, gardening, laundry, canning and every summer I, as a girl, was “allowed” to bale hay with the boys and men. I learned how to work and get things done.  Developing a strong work ethic early helped me in my career endeavors. I not only worked full-time jobs as a conservator and book repairer for 20 years at UC Berkeley and the SF Public Library but I also launched my business that initially involved creating and selling my paste papers and hand-bound books.

A good work ethic goes a long way: it has made me more organized and focused on details related to my art and business. It especially helps me now as I am involved in 2 Ten Women Galleries in Santa Monica while I continue to create and independently sell my artwork, produce various art pieces and complete commissioned work. Recent artworks include paper mache bowls, suspended paper bouquet balls, and a collection of quotes highlighting Women’s Voices on a printed background of my paste paper designs.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Smoother than most, I have to say. My ambitions allowed me to carry on and continue to make and sell my work no matter what. Being surrounded by supportive influences made a huge difference.  My partner and the love of my life for 43+ years has played a consistent role all along the way and in every business endeavor. Her “just do it” attitude rubs off and so, I just do it!

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
All my creations derive from making paste papers which I learned from my first bookbinding class. Painting onto paper using acrylic paints and paste carried me through many ventures. I have been fortunate to have participated in a variety of Craft, Art and Book Fairs and continue to sell wholesale to gift and book arts shops. I have self-published my artist’s books, am currently involved with two successful galleries and have also licensed my designed paste papers. I have been commissioned to do unique things related to books and paste papers. My designs are collected worldwide and are included in numerous publications.

In 2018, I became one of 53 artists included in “The Paper Legacy Project Collection” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Thomas J. Watson Library in NYC curated and managed by Mindy Dubansky, the Museum Librarian for Preservation.  The collection includes 60 of my designed paste papers, a selection of my books, tools used to decorate papers and products produced from my paste paper designs. My story and paste paper creations along with other paper makers of marbled, paste and fold-and-dye papers are included in a book: “Pattern and Flow: A Golden Age of American Decorated Paper, 1960s to 2000s” by Mindell Dubansky due out in November 2022. An exhibition will accompany the book and its collection at in NYC in January 2023, with merchandise to be made available in the MET Museum store.

Over the years, I have designed/created and produced hundreds of unique paste papers; I compiled 450 of them in my 9 volumes of self-published “Paste Paper Pattern” books. Each book (in editions of 18) contains 50 original paste papers along with descriptions of the process and tools used to make the designs. These books serve as my catalog.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
I’ve learned to trust myself and my instincts. I use “Be Well” but also “Be Kind” as my guiding principles as it has been difficult. I am a rule follower especially when it comes to health. I also respect others’ choices. While not agreeing with those against wearing masks, I stay away and wear a mask as I want to protect myself and do not want to get Covid, especially Long Covid. It has taught me that everyone feels entitled to their views and actions and how I react affects my well-being. In today’s world, it is up to people to protect themselves. Earlier it might have been, I will protect you and you will protect me.

As an introvert, Covid allowed me to continue working on my books and paper creations-this has given me ample time to be creative and productive.

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Image Credits
Marie Kelzer

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