Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Making handmade paper

Here is what I've been working on most afternoons for the last week. I have a nice stack of handmade paper now, in various colors. This is a great summer project to do outside on your porch or deck. It's kind of drippy and messy, so it would make quite a mess indoors.

It's been about 8 years since I last attempted to make my own paper. At that time, I thought the project went well, but now that I have a better idea of what I'm doing, I think not!

Some of my paper was so thick it came out looking like the toilet paper wads you see on the ceilings of public restrooms! I've concluded I had too much pulp in my vat. I ended up tearing all the super-thick paper up and recycling it for my new paper.

The project went very well this time with the exception of a little mishap I had with some inclusions. They looked very pretty, like little crystals, but turned out to be rather uncomfortable to run your hand across once the paper was dry. I think they would be showcased better in a paper casting, rather than a sheet of paper.

Here is a sheet from my first batch. I used recycled paper (copy paper and letterhead) with no inclusions, other than the flower seeds I originally used 8 years ago.

A green sheet using dark green tissue paper and green cold water dye. The dark flecks are the tissue paper.

This piece is from the same recycled pulp, but this time I added purple and lavender tissue paper to my blender of pulp. The tissue only lightly colored the pulp. The dark purple I blended longer than the lavender, resulting in large areas of lavender and flecks of dark purple. A nice effect, I think.

I had some leftover dye from a previous project, so I dumped it into the next blender full of pulp. The dye was called chestnut brown, but as you can see, the paper ended up more terra cotta than brown. I used Arnold Grummer's Gold Dust in this vat. (see for supplies--great customer service!)

Here is my last sample from today. I've photographed the paper both wet and dry to show the dramatic difference in color once the paper dries. I used more leftover dye in denim blue and Arnold Grummer's Silver Sprinkles. There are more sprinkles in the wet piece than the dry because it was the last of the pulp and I poured it into a mold, so the sprinkles were very concentrated.
As you may have noticed, it sounds as if I am addicted to making paper, and I think I am! I find myself walking around the house wondering what would happen if I added this or that to my paper! Quite possibly there will be more experiments to come. In the meantime, have a safe and happy 4th of July!

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