White Bear Lake resident Jill Hazel stumbled upon papermaking about 20 years ago, when she saw a mold in a craft store. She took it home and started working with it, and soon her dad made her papermaking equipment—a larger, custom mold and deckle. After some papermaking, she left the craft for several years, until last year, when she was at a craft show and started talking to a fellow crafter who encouraged Hazel to get back into it.
Hazel was working as a nanny for a family of three children when the family let her know they were getting ready to move. While she was figuring out what to do next, she began to focus more on her crafts. “As I create things, it’s just a recharging pause, a bucket-filler for me,” she says. “So I started [making] bath products at home—emptied out a closet and set up a table for a workspace. Journaling is another thing that makes me happy, so I started putting together journals, bookbinding [them] and selling them on Etsy.”
In talking with other women, she found they were also looking for ways to fit relaxation into the small moments available, so most of her products center on this idea, like a bath bomb for a little quiet time in the evening, a journal to quickly and easily record special moments, or special handmade paper to write a note to a loved one. This is the kind of moment Hazel considers a beautiful pause.
A Place of Her Own
Besides using the products Hazel sells, customers can find another kind of beautiful pause by taking a class and spending some time with friends chatting, relaxing and creating their own craft in Hazel’s downtown White Bear Lake space, A Beautiful Pause.
The shop came into being almost by accident—her crafting had outgrown her closet by the 2016 holiday season, and she packed all her supplies and tools into storage bins to reclaim her living space. Everything was stored away for a few months, and then Hazel’s husband happened to run across her current shop location. “I never intended on a retail shop, but it worked out,” she says. Now the shop’s upstairs houses her production and inventory, and the lower level has room for retail and classes, which she began offering this past May.
Classes are generally adults only. “Some people are with kids all day long, so it’s not a beautiful pause if there are kids around,” she explains. Moms can arrange private times with their kids and a few friends if they like, but advertised classes are limited to adults. Hazel also found that a guided craft could be a game-changer for those who’ve never considered themselves good at crafting. “We had a lady last week who said she’d never been able to make anything in her life, and now she wants to schedule a couple classes for her friends and some neighbors,” Hazel says.
Originally from Michigan, Hazel lived in Indianapolis for eight years and moved to White Bear Lake about six years ago. “I love downtown White Bear Lake, so I was really excited to have a shop here, especially in the Avalon—I love this building, and the tea room downstairs,” she says. “I love the small-town downtown area.”
Perfecting the Pulp
What Hazel initially liked about making paper is that the basics are easy to learn, and then you can experiment with customization. To begin, she puts paper scraps (leftover pieces from other projects, junk mail, etc.) into a blender with some water. She varies the consistency based on the proportions of paper and water, and can create anything from tissue paper to cardstock.
Before blending, Hazel often adds other ingredients like plant materials, denim, cotton or confetti. Some are for decoration and some are for sturdiness. Another add-in is flower seeds, which results in paper that will grow when planted.
Then she pours the pulp out of the blender into a mold and deckle, which is a basically a double frame with a screen, and swishes it to disperse the material evenly. After draining it, she uses a sponge to soak up more water, and then uses blotters called couch sheets to absorb even more.
Finally, if she’s in a hurry or teaching a class and needs a quick product, she dries the finished paper with an iron. The more traditional (but slower) method is to stack the paper between couch sheets and put it in a press, where drying takes a few days, depending on thickness. For the seed paper, she pours the pulp into cookie cutters to form thicker shaped pieces of paper.
What makes it especially fun for Hazel is the up-cycling aspect. “I try to recycle as much as I can,” she says. “In [one] piece, I used a pair of old jeans I was going to throw away. I like to see what I can take and make with different kinds of materials.”
Handmade Items at A Beautiful Pause
- Paper products include gift cardholders, cards and journals.
- Bath bombs, including one that looks like a little white bear.
- Bath teas—mixed and matched with scents like rose clay, lavender chamomile and orange spice.
- Bath truffles or melts, a skin-softening luxury item of mostly cocoa butter.
- Bath salts, with scents and shapes that vary seasonally.
- Gift baskets that include a variety of products.
- Lotion bars
- Yoga-mat spray refresher/cleaner.
- Prayer boxes—a little tin containing small sheets of paper, a tiny pen and a magnet so you can jot down a thought or prayer and place it inside the box.