Connie Herring is a multi-talented artist. She works in a variety of media and does all sorts of fantastical and technical creations. She is primarily an installation artist, though she creates sculpture, handmade paper and books, weavings on commission, and designs personal jewelry upon request. But arguably more important than that, she is a good spirit and one of the nicest people I know. Visit her website, www.connieherring.com. I encourage you to do so.
I had asked Connie to tell me about making paper. She gave such a excellent and comprehensive answer that I thought I would post it all, in her words.
Steps for making paper
I make a variety of papers. I have paper made by recycling old library cards from card catalogs, (this paper can’t be considered archival I don’t think because of the ink they used at the time, but the cards are 100% cotton). I also make paper from Abaca, cotton, and linen linters. The linen is what I’ll bring you.
Linters are large, thick sheets of compressed fibers which I order from various paper making supply places. I tear the linters up and soak them in water over night. I usually weight the amount in each bucket so that if I have to add color, or a sizing I know how much to add to the amount of paper.
The next day I “beat” the torn up paper. I use a disposal which has been mounted under a table which is open at the bottom. I put the soaked, torn paper into the disposal and it comes out the bottom into a bucket as paper pulp. There’s lots of water involved so things get pretty wet all around. From there the pulp is put into a vat of water. There is a lot of water in relation to the pulp and the ratio of water to pulp determines the thickness of the paper. The more pulp the heavier the paper.
Next I get the mold and deckle that I want to use for the size of paper needed. The mold is a frame covered with screen. The deckle is like a frame that fits over the mold. Inside the frame, on the screen is where the sheet of paper is formed. Next I mix the pulp/water mix so the pulp is evenly suspended in the vat. I hang onto the mold and deckle on two sides and cut it into the vat. I pull the mold/deckle up, and let it drain. There is a sheet of paper on the mold at this point.
I carefully remove the deckle and couch the sheet of paper onto a felt. (A felt traditionally is a special piece of felt used specifically for paper making. I use a synthetic felt.) “Couching” is the term used to the process of turning the mold upside down and putting the paper pulp onto the felt. I will place another felt onto the paper, pull another sheet of paper and put that on top of the new felt. I will build a stack of paper like this until I have about 25 sheets.
I then put a board on top and bottom of the stack and place into a press. I tighten the press as far as possible to eliminate as much water as possible. I let the paper set in the press for at least a 1/2 hour, and while it’s setting I make another stack of paper. Once out of the press I lay the pieces of paper out to dry.
It’s really very basic, but takes awhile to get consistent sheets. I order a lot of my supplies from Twinrocker, and they have a web site www.twinrocker.com that has a couple of pictures of making paper that may be helpful.