Paper Making

Paper Making

A suprisingly easy, age old technique!

The beautifully tactile effects of handmade paper are so fascinating that they will probably inspire you to try your hand at the age old technique, but did you know that in doing so, you would also make a very important contribution to the protection of the environment.

Every year we waste an incredible amount of paper, including a large part that is actually recyclable. You probably have at your disposal a few newspapers or good quality old papers of which you could make good use. Papermaking is under no circumstances an impossible task and anyone can give it a try.

Paper Making

A few essentials you will need are:

–          A Blender with a maximum capacity of a litre

–          Two planks of wood (roughly 32 x 33 cm) these should be rigid and not absorbent

–          A large plastic bowl

–           Several pieces of felt

–          A wooden frame

–          A flat sieve or mesh mounted onto another frame

And, of course, soaked paper – left for at least two hours in water to make pulp – to which you can add cellulose paste, China clay or dried flowers.

Mix the pulp in the water to prevent it all sinking to the bottom. Put the frame onto the sieve and hold the two parts firmly together before plunging them both into the water. Slowly and carefully pull the frame up out of the bowl, keeping it level and let the water drain away leaving the pulp on the sieve mesh. If the pulp is not evenly distributed shake the frame gently to manoeuvre the pulp until it is spread over the entire shape of the frame. When the pulp is fully drained, remove the frame leaving the pulp on the mesh of the sieve and maintaining the shape of the frame.

Paper Making

The wet pulp sheet now needs to be transferred to the felt so that it can dry. Place a piece of dampened felt onto one of the planks. This tricky step will consist of ‘spilling’ the pulp on the felt. Put the long edge of the frame on the edge on the plank, holding it at a slight angle so that the pulp does not pour or slip. Quickly ‘roll’ the frame onto the plank so that the pulp is transferred to the felt in one quick gesture. Slowly raise the edge of the frame you started the roll with, and then the other to free the sheet. Put a dampened felt on top of this first sheet and follow the same process, making sure to separate each new sheet with a piece of dampened felt. Put a plank over the last bit of felt of the stack.

When you have finished making the individual sheets press firmly and evenly on the top plank to eliminate as much remaining water as possible. Clamps or a vertical press are ideal for helping with this if you have them available.

After pressing, take off the top plank and the first felt, and delicately remove the sheets from the wet felt. The best way to do this is to turn the felt over so that the paper sheet is on the bottom, then roll the felt carefully towards you and off the paper, being careful to ease the paper gently away with your thumb or finger as you start rolling the felt. Then place the sheets between pieces of dry felt to dry. Leave the sheets for at least 24 hours to dry completely and finally you have a beautiful support ideal for painting, sketching or craft creations!

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