MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2009

Timothy Barrett

Papermaker

Center for the Book, University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA

Age: 59

Published January 26, 2009
Image of Timothy Barrett

Timothy Barrett is an internationally recognized master craftsman and paper historian who is preserving and enhancing the art of hand-papermaking through his work as a practitioner, scholar, and teacher. Combining the skills of artist, ethnographer, scientist, and historian, he documents and demonstrates centuries-old hand-papermaking practices that may otherwise be lost. As the founding director of the papermaking facilities at the University of Iowa Center for the Book — the only academic program in the United States that focuses on producing traditional Western- and Japanese-style papers and teaching-related techniques — he has trained a generation of papermakers to create conservation-sound paper. His Japanese Papermaking: Traditions, Tools, and Techniques (1983) draws on research he conducted in Japan on the history of paper as well as his experience as a papermaking practitioner; this groundbreaking volume compiles (for Western audiences) essential knowledge about the unique qualities of handmade Japanese paper, which is a fundamental repair material for all conservators. Synthesizing his deep understanding of various papermaking traditions of the east and west and innovative, modern techniques, Barrett has developed a variety of specialty and production papers to address the needs of book and paper conservators. Among his many conservation projects, he and his co-workers fabricated the handmade archival paper used to re-house the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution as part of the “Charters of Freedom Re-encasement Project” in 2002. Deeply committed to the preservation and future of his art form, Barrett continues to enrich the fields of hand-papermaking, paper conservation, and the history of paper.

Timothy Barrett received a B.A. (1973) from Antioch College and undertook training in papermaking at Twinrocker Handmade Paper (1973-1975), the Saitama Prefecture Paper Industry Research Station in Japan (1975-1977), and Western Michigan University (1982-1985). He served as director of the University of Iowa Center for the Book from 1996 to 2002, where he is currently a research scientist and adjunct professor.

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About the Fellows Program

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Learn More

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