How To Make Handmade Paper
How To Make Handmade Paper Step By Step.
The great thing about handmade paper is that its so versatile in use and yet no matter what it's purpose, it adds a distinctively creative element.
My name is Mona Majorowicz and I have been in the art and framing industry for over 20 years. I am an animal artist (meaning I paint critters) who works primarily in Oil Pastel or Water Soluble Pencil.
I often use this when working in oil pastel. Recently I spent a day with Connie Herring, an artist friend of mine who taught me the process of creating acid free handmade paper. And this lens is the result. Much of the content here is in Connie's own words. The photos are of me actually making it.
I created over 100 pages this day so it was fairly labor intensive. A smaller batch would have been much easier. But I figured "Hey as long as I'm making a mess, why not go big."
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in the guestbook section.
What Will Get Covered On This Lens
* Supplies Needed
* Discuss Pulp Grinders, Molds and Presses
* Step By Step Process
* Recyclable Items That Can Used As Pulp
* Creative Things To Add To Your Pulpr
All copyrights are retained by the artist,
Mona Majorowicz of Wild Faces Gallery.
The artwork or content in this lens may not be used or reproduced, either
in part or in whole, without the express written consent from the artist.
An Oil Pastel Painting Done On Handmade Paper
And This Is Why I Make My Own
Cowgirl is an example of my work. She is an oil pastel painting done on a sheet of Connie's acid free handmade paper and is approximately 10 1/2 x 13"
I've become enamored with using this for my oil pastels. The small format allows for quick and easy expression of my work, without all the huge thought processes of larger more complicated work. Plus I love those nubbely edges.
I had always thought making paper was a difficult and lengthy process. But after spending a day actually doing it, I was surprised at how easy it actually was.
Cowgirl (and many others) are available in print at my website Wild Faces Gallery
Supplies You'll Need
Supplies & Materials List
The Supplies You'll Need Are:
* Pulp (linters or recyclables)
* Buckets for soaking linter pulp.
* Mold and Deckle
* Large Plastic Basin or Tub (big and deep enough to easily submerge mold)
* Disposal (Blender or Food Processor) for grinding and blending the pulp
* White Felt
* Wool Sheets ( old rags or towels will also work)
* Sizing (either store bought or liquid starch or cornstarch will do in a pinch)
* Sponges for cleanup.
Note: Making Paper is very fun but also very messy. Be sure to chose a location where water can run amok and clean up is easy.
Also It's a good idea to not rinse your molds or equipment in the sink, unless you have a tiny strainer screen. The result could be plugged pipes. A big plumber bill could take just a little bit of the fun aspect out of it.
Definition Of Cotton Linters In Regards To Making Paper
Information Regarding Supplies & Materials List
For this tutorial we used cotton linters as I wanted to create a acid free cotton rag paper. The Linters we used for this batch were very large and thick sheets of cotton fibers pressed together. At the bottom of this page there is a list of recyclable items which you can make into or include into your sheets well.
Definition of Cotton Linters by Wikipedia
Cotton linters are fine, silky fibers which adhere to the seeds of the cotton plant after ginning. These curly fibers typically are less than 1/8 in (3 mm) long. The term also may apply to the longer textile fiber staple lint as well as the shorter fuzzy fibers from some upland species. Linters are traditionally used in the manufacture of paper and as a raw material in the manufacture of cellulose. In the UK, linters are referred to as "cotton wool".
Ten Steps To Making Paper
The 10 Steps Are:
Step 1: Soaking The Linters
Step 2: Beating The Pulp.
Step 3: Adding Pulp To Water Vat
Step 4: Preparing For Stacking Sheets
Step 5: Pulling The Sheet
Step 6: Couching And Stacking
Step 7: Putting Into The Press
Step 8: Removing From The Press
Step 9: Allowing The Pages To Dry For Several Days
Step 10: Figuring out what you're gonna do with all that wonderful paper.
Step 1: Soaking the Linters
Keeping The Buckets Uniform Is Key
Tear the linters up and soak them in water overnight. I usually measure the weight 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 pulp.
Step 2: Beating The Linters Into A Pulp
This Part Is Messy And Fun
The next day I "beat" the torn up linters that has been soaking overnight. 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 while spraying in water from the faucet. It comes out the bottom into a 5 gallon bucket as pulp. There's lots of water involved so things get pretty wet all around.
After beating, if *sizing or dyes are going to be added, it is done so at this point.
(Photo is of Connie using her disposal to "beat" the paper.)
*Definition of Sizing by Wikipedia
Sizing is used during paper manufacture in order to reduce the it's tendency when dry to absorb liquid, with the goal of allowing inks and paints to remain on the surface of the paper, and to dry there rather than be absorbed. This provides a more consistent, economical, and precise printing, painting, and writing surface. This is achieved by curbing the paper fibers' tendency to absorb liquids by capillary action. In addition, sizing affects abrasiveness, creasibility, finish, printability, smoothness, and surface bond strength and decreases surface porosity and fuzzing.
Alternatives To Purchased Sizing Are:
Garbage Disposal For The Serious Hnadmade Paper Maker - If You Make Big Batches Often This Is The Way To Go
Connie makes enough batches that she uses a 1 horsepower garbage disposal unit specifically for the job. She started out with a 1/2 horsepower unit and burned it out as it wasn't powerful enough to handle the workload. Her 1HP unit has worked well fro many years.
Using A Blender For Grinding Paper Pulp In Smaller Batches - Blenders - Supplies & Materials
Note: Connie makes a lot and in big batches, so she has more serious equipment. For smaller batches, a blender can work for this step as well. It just takes a whole lot longer
Bear in mind that whatever blender you choose it pretty much should be used for this purpose only and not repurposed back into making food.
Step 3: Adding Pulp To The Water Vat
Getting The Water To Pulp Ratio Just Right
After beating the linters into pulp, 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. The more pulp the heavier the sheet.
Note: There is no real formula for this. Add some pulp, pull a sheet, determine if you want it thicker or thinner and then add more pulp or water as needed.
As you pull sheets and add more pulp the water vat slowly becomes overly full with too much water. When this happen you just skim off the surface water. Often I remove as much as a gallon of excess water at a time.
(Photo Notice here we are using the incredibly high tech skimming device of an old margarine tub for removing some extra water.)
Tubs For Your Making Water Vat - Handmade Paper Supplies & Materials
Be sure it is large enough to accommodate you mold and deckle. You need plenty of room to sweep your mold into the water and lift with ease.
Step 4: Preparing For Stacking
Synthetic Felts For Stacking Sheets
Originally felts were used to both create the paper surface and for water absorption. However the actual felts were quite expensive. So a synthetic felt was created at a much cheaper price. I'm not even sure if you can buy real felts anymore. Synthetic felts are what I used for my process. The synthetic felts are not water absorbent so additional fabrics must be used for this function.
Stacking To prepare for the stacking of sheets that goes into the press, first a board is laid in place. Since we are using a homemade press we will need two boards of the same thickness and size. (Purchased presses come with the boards already in pace) These are what squeezes the water from the pulp while in the press. So after a board is in place it is then followed by three sheets of wool and one sheet of synthetic felt.
The Wool Connie uses wool Army blankets washed many times and cut to size for the paper. The blanket/wool is for water absorption and cushioning between sheets. (Old towels or rags could be used in a pinch as long as they are uniform in thickness for going into the press.) You can get these wool blankets at army surplus stores.
The Synthetic Felt This was a non stick material that allowed the water to pass through to be absorbed into the wool. This creates the smooth texture and prevents the wool from sticking to the newly formed sheet.
When Working With Sizings Or Dyes Use Disposable Gloves - Supplies & Materials
It's always a good idea to wear gloves when using chemicals. But it becomes a necessity when adding dye or colorant to your paper.
Step 5: Pulling A Sheet Of Pulp
Putting Pulp On The Mold
Select Mold and Deckle Size Next I get the mold and deckle that I want to use for the size I 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 is formed.
Mix The Pulp/Water Mixture so the pulp is evenly suspended in the vat. I do this 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 (perfectly horizontal) straight up, and let it drain. While I'm pulling it up I gently shake it. This encourages the fibers to bond and settle as well as forcing air between the pulp fibers to be released.
There is a sheet on the mold at this point. I examine the it for uniform thickness, bubbles or thin spots. If it looks good we move on to the couching step. But if it has any flaws I dump it back in the basin, stir and try again. In order to return a poorly made sheet back into the water vat, you tip it upside down and touch the waters surface. This is called "kissing". The water tension pulls the pulp back into the vat. You can also use this technique for cleaning remaining pulp from off your deckle.
(Photo here shows the mold and deckle after a sheet has been pulled.)
* Definition of Cutting as it relates to paper making Slice the mold in from the side at as low an angle as possible. This is done gently so an not to create waves which will make your sheet thicker on one side than the other.
A Few Words About Molds - You Can Make Your Own Mold Or Buy Them
Since I'm making paper in small batches for my art and not a production resale like Connie does, when I finally get my own set up I'll probably just buy my molds. However if your skilled with a bit of wood and some screen you can make yourself up a variety of sizes and shapes in no time
An Idea For A Homemade Mold: A quick way to make a mold is with a fine screen and an old picture frame. You wouldn't get those very cool deckled edges that I like so well for my art, but for stationary or some other writing paper use it may work really well.
Step 6: Couching And Stacking The Handmade Paper
Creating Stacks Of Sheets
Carefully remove the deckle and "couch" the sheet onto a felt. (A felt traditionally is a special piece of felt used specifically for this process. Here I am using a synthetic felt.)
(Photo is me "couching" a sheet.)
Then place another felt onto the newly couched sheet. Then add another sheet of wool followed by another sheet of felt. Then pull another sheet of paper and repeat the process.
Definition of Couching To This Process.
Couching is the term used for the process of turning the mold upside down (no worries about it falling off the mold . . . it won't) and putting the pulp onto the felt.
Step 7: Build A Stack Of Handmade Paper And Then Put It Into The Press - Pressing Your Sheets
I will build a stack of sheets like this (as mentioned in step 6) 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 sheets 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.
Note: This is the really messy part as water comes pouring out of the press as it gets tightened down. So be sure you have your press located somewhere that water clean up can be done easily.
Step 8: Removing The Sheets From The Press.
Steps For Making Handmade Paper
Remove The Pressed Sheets From The Press After at least 30 minutes have passed, I remove sheets from the press and lay the paper out to dry.
(Photo is me removing them from the press.)
Note: The light colored page in the photo that I am holding is actually the felt, not the actual sheet. The sheet is still too fragile to be handled. The sheets will be allowed to dry while still in the felts.
Step 9: The Handmade Paper Must Dry For A Few Days
Be Sure To Leave In A Place They Won't Be Disturbed
First I pull off the wool sheet, then grasp both felts (upper and lower) with the fresh made sheet between. These are then laid out on cardboard and allowed to dry for a couple of days, while still in the felts.
Air circulation is helpful, but you don't want any direct air blowing on them. We set up a few fans blowing on the lowest setting, being careful to make sure they weren't blowing directly on any sheets.
Be sure to allow them to dry thoroughly before handling or they will not set up properly. After a couple of days of dry time, you can stack them up and set them for a couple of weeks before using, just to make sure they cure properly.
Using Clip On Fans For Drying Your Sheets - Clip On Fans Work Best As They Are Easily Addjustable
Clip on Fans work really well for drying sheets because you can position them for maximum air circulation by pointing them in virtually any direction, avoiding any air blowing directly on the sheets though.
Step 10: The End Result: Paper Glorious Paper!
The Last Step
So there you go! You've now got stacks and stacks of wonderful handmade sheets good for almost any application.
Now that you've got the basics down, why not experiment?For a few ideas on how to add interest to your paper, read on.
Some Additional Information
A Glossary Of Terms
A Handy Reference For Definitions.
Couching The act of applying the pulled sheet of pulp onto the felt.
Cutting The act of slicing the mold into the water vat at an angle.
Deckle The wood form that fits around the mold.
Felt Used to separate sheets while in the press. Traditionally they were actually made of felt, but now is done mostly with synthetics.
Kissing The act of lightly touching the water vat to pull of paper pulp from the deckle or the frame.
Linters Large sheets of dried cotton, abaca or linen used for the pulp.
Mold A wooden frame with a screen over it, used for pulling pulp from the water vat.
Press The machine or mechanism used to squeeze out excess water from the pulp sheets.
Pulp The ground up paper fibers soaking in water
Sizing A product added to help the pulp fibers stick together.
Skimming Removal of excess water from the pulp vat.
Wool Wool sheets placed between felt to help absorb water.
Getting Creative With Making Handmade Paper
Make Your Own Truly Unique Handmade Paper
Since I was using my sheets for fine art painting, I needed to be more conservative on what I included in the process. However use your creativity and the sky's the limit for what you can achieve.
Note: Be aware that these things should be ADDED to the mixture and are not meant to replace the cotton or linen fibers.
Ideas For Creative Ingredient Additives Are:
Small threads or fibers
Yarn (cut in small bits)
Ribbon (also cut into small bits)
Add Color With:
Tissue Paper (blend thoroughly)
Add Scent With:
Essential Oils (use sparingly and be careful of how the oil might impact the sheet)
Extract (lemon, almond, vanilla)
Spices (ginger, cinnamon)
Wear An Apron When Using Glues Or Dyes - Actually it's a good idea anytime your doing an artsy craft project
As previously mentioned there is a lot of water in the paper making process. An apron will help you stay dry as well as clean.
Recyclable Items That Can Be Turned Into Handmade Paper
Make Your Own Truly Unique Handmade Sheets
Because the purpose behind my making handmade paper was for artwork I wanted to be sure that all materials were considered archival so I used cotton linters only.
But there's no reason that other materials can't be re-imagined into new sheets for multiple purposes. Pretty much anything that is made from wood, cotton or plant pulp can be converted in the base pulp. Keep in mind that items like newspaper or cardboard will make a grayish or brown sheet unless mixed with a sufficient amount of white paper product.
Options For Additions To Your Pulp:
Egg Cartons (not the styrofoam kind)
Non Waxed Cardboard Boxes
Old Card Catalog Cards
Brown Paper Bags
As an artist I always have strips of this laying around
Cotton Rag Matboard
Books & Supplies For Making Handmade Paper
Here's a few books on how to make paper
My Paper Making Mentor
I recently spent a day with Connie Herring, an artist friend of mine, making paper. The two things that surprised me most was how easy it was to do, and also how physically demanding it was. After making 100 sheets I was pretty much exhausted.
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.
Connie makes a variety of papers and has even made paper by recycling old library cards from card catalogs, On the odd occasion you get a letter visible on your sheet, which to me adds a whole lot of character. She also makes paper from Abaca, cotton, and linen linters. Linters are large, thick sheets of compressed fibers which she orders from various of supply places.