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Movers and Makers: Turning recycling into handmade paper

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Give her a stack of junk mail, a bucket of water and an old blender and Jenn Woodward can turn other people's recycling into lovely handmade paper. And she's turned that paper into a business, Pulp and Deckle. It all started when the artist took a class on paper making in graduate school.

"I really fell in love with it," Jenn explained. "Just being able to make something from start to finish, something that was totally unique, one of a kind paper."

With help from her husband, Gary Hanson, Jenn now holds workshops and classes. She patiently teaches others how to create paper out of cotton fibers, old clothes, cannabis stalks and an array of other natural ingredients.

"Sometimes it's like cooking," Jenn said. "I'll try a little bit of this and see what happens."

Jenn sells her paper and an original line of greeting cards on Etsy. She takes custom orders, and is mentoring other artists at C3, an art nonprofit in St. Johns.

"I also teach at Portland Community College," said Jenn.

In other words, whatever it takes to pay the rent. Which can be awfully high in Portland. So when Pulp and Deckle has to move in a month, it will be downsizing a bit, to an old espresso truck.

"Obviously inspired by the famous food carts," said Gary. "It's a smart solution. Just have a structure that you can move to wherever you need to."

The couple raised the money for the truck on Kickstarter, a solution that makes sense for their business and their bank account, according to Jenn. "If we wanted a space like downtown or Hawthorne or Alberta? That would be all of our money!"

Sharing a space isn't practical either, since paper making is messy. "We are going to make a lot of noise and everything gets wet," joked Jenn. "Don't you want us to move in?"

Jenn and Gary actually moved to Portland from Boston to start their business. They found a supportive community and customers.

"They kinda get it," said Jenn. "They know it's special to have something made by hand."

The couple doesn’t have a name for their new truck yet, but one suggestion would be tough to beat. “The Pulpmobile” could be hitting the road soon.

Pulp and Deckle bought this old espresso truck.