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An enthusiastic group of girls was inspired to make paper out of all natural plant materials as part of a recent Just Add Water class at The Phipps Center. From left are Natalie Schlepp, Kendra Lundquist, Emma Eke, Elizabeth Morrissey, Hannah Johansen, Sarah Morrissey and Lauren Ichel. Photo submitted

Just Add Water class cooks up paper

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arts and entertainment River Falls,Wisconsin 54022
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Just Add Water class cooks up paper
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Just Add Water began its third summer at The Phipps Center for the Arts this year, with a class especially for girls, ages 11-15.

In conjunction with the current show at The Phipps, Women and Water Rights, the girls in the class worked with two of the artists who were instrumental in bringing the show to The Phipps, Barb Bend and Teri Power. The girls explored the water issues brought to light by the show, and created artwork of their own to express some of what they had learned. Their artwork is on display at the center outside the Just Add Water lab in the Atrium gallery.


The class gathered natural plant material, cooked it for a day, and blended it to create a paper pulp. The cellulose in the plant leaves helped create a fibrous pulp which, when gathered on a screen, flattened and dried and became a strong paper. The class used newspaper and magazines to create paper images to inspire and educate others about the water issues the world currently faces.

The group also got a chance to kayak on Lake Mallelieu and learn about this important local body of water. The lake was formed by damming the Willow River which feeds into the lake and is a contributing part of the St. Croix River watershed. The back area of the lake is an area rich in life and home to many insects, birds and fish. The health of all these creatures and of the St. Croix is dependent on rivers and streams in its watershed. The Women and Water Rights show explores the concept of healthy watersheds in many of the pieces found in the galleries.

As with every Just Add Water class, the class spent a day "mucking" --using small nets and wading in the water, looking for life in the river. This activity changes dramatically with the rising river and the students found it difficult to find the usual organisms, bugs and other aquatic life, when water levels are so high.

Just Add Water is an art and science class which explores the St. Croix River, uses a hands-on approach to teach science of the St. Croix and has students creating art to communicate what they have learned.

There are three more sessions this summer: 

  • July 16-20 (ages 8 and older) River Clean up week: Students will do a river clean up and make a sculpture out of what they find. They will use video cameras to create a documentary/movie about the week.
  • July 30-Aug. 1 Just Add Water: "Tiny Drops" for students ages 4-7.
  • Aug. 20-24 Rain Garden Art: Students will explore the city's first downtown rain gardens and explore creative ways they can help the health of streams, rivers and watershed.

    For more information on the upcoming classes and the current exhibit, contact The Phipps Center at (715) 386-2305. 

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