Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Step 3: Making Paper

Making paper is one of my favorite parts of this project as it reminds me of working in the darkroom. I love that it's incredibly tactile and that there is something very primal and grounding when sticking my hands in the stinky, murky water.

My 6x9 inch mould and deckle was purchased from Lee McDonald. (Though you can also buy some nice sets here or make your own.) The mould (left) is a screened frame that catches pulp to form the sheet of paper. The deckle is a frame that sits on top of the mould. It catches pulp and defines the edge of the paper.

In the pictures that follow, I'm pulling a sheet of garlic mustard paper.



The paper is couched (transferred) onto a sheet of cotton fabric (old bed sheets work wonderfully) and another cotton sheet is placed on top. Then a piece of wool (or in my case, fleece) is placed on top. And then you repeat. Once you've made a few sheets of paper, it's timing for pressing. Professional paper artists have a heavy-duty press like this one (which belongs to Karen O'Neal).

Paper-making photographers like myself use a wooden board, one hundred pounds of hand weights, and one hundre.......uh, a good amount of body weight to press the paper. I stand on it as long as I can before losing my balance and/or patience. I've been researching how to make a small hydraulic paper press to make this process a bit easier - and the paper a bit stronger.

After the paper is pressed, I peel away one side of fabric and lay the pulp side down on Plexiglass to dry. I usually put newspaper on top as well, which helps to absorb moisture and even drying of the sheets. Without newspaper, the sheets tend to buckle and end up back in the chopper. (In upper right corner you can see pieces that dried from the day before.)

Beautiful garlic mustard paper. :)