Memories of an RIT professor

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Joseph Brown, professor emeritus in the School of Printing, died Feb. 27, 2012. Brown joined RIT in 1958, teaching paper technology and hand papermaking. He was awarded the Eisenhart Outstanding Teaching Award in 1989-1990 and served as chairman of RIT’s Faculty Council. He was a Peace Corps volunteer. Brown retired from RIT in 1992.

I wanted to share my memories of Joe Brown.

I had just moved to Rochester to start my MFA in textiles at the School for American Crafts. Being a textile person, I had tried many “textile” media, including papermaking, and sported a bumper sticker on my car that read “Papermakers Get Felt Between The Sheets”—something you do in hand-papermaking to separate the sheets of freshly made paper. I was stopped at a light near campus with my parents in the car, and this guy pulls up alongside and calls out, “Who’s the papermaker?” I didn’t know quite what to think but answered that I was. He said, “Hand or machine?” and I said, “Hand.” Then he said, “Come over and see me at RIT. I’m Joe Brown.”

I did get to visit the paper lab one day and introduced myself—he remembered my bumper sticker! I later learned that Joe’s wife, Helen, was a fiber person and had a great shop for supplies. Joe always invited me to the paper lab when they were doing handmade paper for special projects like Valentine’s Day—he liked the art students to show off to the machine papermakers. I usually took a couple of other textile students with me and we made all kinds of cool and fun things with the paper pulp.

Joe was my first introduction to RIT and from that I knew that my experience there was going to be different and special. Joe Brown will truly be missed!

Janelle Delicata ’83 (weaving and textile design)

I had Joe Brown for my freshman paper class in 1976-1977 and was amazed at how he could make what would seem like a mundane subject so intriguing! I had never before thought to analyze a ream of copy paper... In seriousness, he was excellent at what he taught and gave me a thorough perspective of the myriad papers on the market, which came in very handy as my first five years after graduation were spent as a publications director/print buyer for two Rochester-area colleges.

In addition, I chose to do an independent study on the concept of dye resist qualities of different papers (basically testing papers to see how they would adapt to the batik process). Professor Brown was always eager to see what I was doing and the progress I was making with my research. He was an exceptional mentor. Finally, he was very helpful to the Genesee Valley Calligraphy Guild, of which I have been a member for approximately 25 years. He offered tours and workshops in papermaking to guild members and encouraged their experiments with inks on various paper surfaces. He will truly be missed.

Kathie (Steinke) Lyke ’80 (printing management)

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