The illustrated version.
So this is essentially a re-posting of a blog entry I made several months ago. Except this time we have some pictures to help illustrate the concepts. The instructions are priomarily in Connie’s own words, though I’ve added some additional information. The new input will be in italics.
About Connie Herring
My good friend Connie Herring (Photo Below is Connie “couching” a sheet of paper.) offered to show me how to make handmade paper after I discovered the joys of working with oil pastels on it. I particularly love those nobbley deckley edges that look so cool when framed out.
Connie 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.
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. Linters are large, thick sheets of compressed fibers which I order from various paper making supply places.
Step1. I tear the linters up and soak them in water over night. (Photo Above is soaking linters) 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.
Step 2. 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 by the hand full 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.
Step 2.5 If I am going to be adding sizing or dyes, I do so at this point.
Step 3. 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. (Photo is Connie is skimming off some extra water.)
Step 4. To prepare for the stacking of paper sheets that goes into the press, first a board is laid in place. Followed by three sheets of wool. Connie used an old wool blanket washed many times and cut to size for the paper. The blanket is for water absorption and cushioning between sheets. So first the board, then 3 sheet of wool, followed by one sheet of felt.
Step 5. 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.
Step 6. Next I mix the pulp/water mix so the pulp is evenly suspended in the vat, by gentle running my hand through it. 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.
Step 7. 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 for the process of turning the mold upside down and putting the paper pulp onto the felt. (photo below is me “couching” a sheet of paper.) I will place another felt onto the paper, (then add another sheet of wool. Then I place another sheet of felt over the wool. And then) pull another sheet of paper and put that on top of the new felt.
Step 8. I will build a stack of paper like this until I have about 25 sheets. I then put three more sheets of wool over the last felt and add the board on top 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, (occasionally going back to squeeze the press a little tighter) and while it’s setting, I make another stack of paper.
Step 9. After at least 30 minutes have passed, I remove papers from the press and lay the paper out to dry.
(Photo Right is me removing papers from the press.)
First I pull off the wool sheet, then grasp both felts (upper and lower) with the sheet of fresh made paper between. These are then laid out on cardboard and allowed to dry for a couple of days. Air circulation is helpful, but you don’t want any direct air blowing on them. Be sure to allow them to dry thoroughly before handling or they will not set up properly.
(Photo Left is paper laying out to dry on cardboard.) After a couple of days of dry time you should then set them aside for a couple of weeks before using, just to make sure they cure properly.
It’s really very basic, but it takes awhile to get consistent sheets. I order a lot of my supplies from Twinrocker, and they have a web site www.twinrocker.com
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