Monday, September 20, 2010

paper-making experiments....

Prior to all my 'beginnings' posts - I had begun some first tentative experiments in paper making...... I have in mind a mini project for my MFA/PhD studio research, and wanted to test out the practicalities of making paper from old books....

so this is what I did....

I started with an old funk and wagnall 2 volume dictionary - which I ripped up into pulp-able sized bits.... (my goodness but it takes a loooooong time to munch up a relatively small book....)
and soaked these in a bucket overnight.

then I pulped the soaked bits with a paint-mixer drill attachment.....
(the paint whizzy thing was surprisingly effective in creating a yummy grey sludge)

then it was time to try my hand at making some paper.... here I am plunging my very rough mold and deckle (made from couple of el cheapo canvas frames, with the mold covered in fly screen....) in to the suspended pulp as I attempt to create my first sheets... (you'll notice my studio assistant Boots is refraining from looking... he feels my pitiful efforts are just too embarrassing to acknowledge...)

couching, like forming the sheet is taking time for me to get to grips with.....

but with more practice I became more adept at releasing the sheet from the mold....
but I've got a lifetime of practice to go before I dare call myself a papermaker!!!!!

some of the successful sheets drying on the line

and finally - the first finished stack of papers.....

I was pleased with my first foray into papermaking...... (Sass and EJ likewise had a ball..... creating a couple of sheets of paper for themselves.... and thanks to my Sass for taking the pics of me in action.....) Now that I've got some hands-on experience with the wet stuff, and a clearer understanding of materials and techniques (including the knowledge that home-brand wipes work much better as couching felts than the more expensive 'chux' brand) I'll be able to move on to the next stage in my mini project.....



  1. Couple of papermaking hints.

    On the bottom a pressing board, then a piece of sponge about 2cm thick, then a felt (old woollen blanket piece), then a couching cloth (I find light coloured well worn poly/cotton sheets work best. Everything must be wet before you attempt to couch your first sheet (which is always the most difficult one).
    I assume you wet the book pages before you tore them up - much easier than doing it while dry.

  2. thanks cecilia for the great advice! (I hadn't even considered wetting the pages before I tore them..... wow I'll give that a go next time)

    but I did notice (after many failures) that if there was padding under the couching, and it was wet then things were more successful....(I'll try it how you suggest)

    and speaking of trying out your suggestions - I'm off to find some old bedsheets to use for couching

    ahhh you're ever the generous font of wisdom!

  3. It's very useful for those of us who think they'd like to dabble in papermaking to see your photos and to read Cecilia's good advice. Thanks to you both.

  4. it's a fantastic colour, that stealy grey. any plans for the stack?

  5. It's been ages since I made paper. It's an art on itself and I should feature some very talented papermakers on my blog sometime...
    Goodluck, Ronnie, it looks great already!!!

  6. Well, Cecelia has already tipped you about the blankets.So I'll pipe down!
    But I have not made paper for so long I think I need to read the book again!
    Had a chuckle at the disdainful Boots!

  7. thanks di, carol the girls at HML HQ and artmind.

    and just so that you all know - Boots the cat has a general rather than specific sense of superiority.... he thinks all human activity (not just my pitiful paper making attempts) is beneath his contempt....


thanks for all your lovely comments - your words are greatly appreciated xx