HGTV filming the Berriochoa Techinique at Downes Studio
The paper making process is a long and delicate process. It starts
in the fall with the gathering of the native grasses. Without going into too much detail, all of
the dried grasses are then chopped up into smaller pieces and boiled down into a mixture, and
let's just say there is a lot of curiosity around the neighborhood as huge kettles are boiling
at all hours of the night throughout the winter.
After the boiling process is completed, the grasses are put
through large blenders cutting them into even smaller pieces and then mixed in water vats and
pulled up on wooden screens. The grass mixture is then removed from the screens and either placed
on felt pads to be taken to Mr. Downes' handmade paper press or left un-pressed to then undergo
the Berriochoa Technique. The paper press extracts the water and compresses the mixture into smooth
sheets which are then hung to dry. Finally, the paper is ready for the painting of ancient symbols
and patterns which add a touch of realism to the piece. In the Berriochoa Technique, Mr. Downes
takes the boiled and blended paper mixture and shapes it over plasticine clay sculptures. The paper
mixture must stay on the sculptures for about three to four weeks to properly dry and harden
evenly, and then Mr. Downes carefully removes the clay sculptures from the back of the formed
paper, leaving only the high relief sculpture.
All of the steps in this paper making process are completed by
hand, personally by Mr. Downes. Some of the paints used on the paper pieces are also made by Mr.
Downes from natural plants that he has grown. The pieces are all presented in beautiful handmade
frames, also personally made by the artist. While some of these elements of the paper pieces
represent the artistry and spirit of the Native American history, others, like the whimsical
"Dog Ponies" come from the artist's own life experiences.