Friday, July 15, 2011

Paper-making is easy!

What Now? asked about paper-making in her comment on my last post, and I thought I'd answer her here. (Why not?)

Paper-making, as my title suggests, is easy! Especially if you shell out a bit for a kit. I went fancy and bought Arnold Grummer's Papermaker Pro, which is a hand-pour mold, though I would eventually consider getting a dip mold for faster, more consistent production. (Don't I sound professional? I am, after all, a Papermaker Pro! I have made 25 sheets of paper!) Truth be told, I didn't look into the difference between hand-pour and dip molds, and thought that I was getting the latter, since that's what I used in high school. But hand-pouring is super easy and, as the websites will tell you, the clean-up is easy.

Basically, here's how it works:
  1. You get all your supplies lined up, and fill the kitchen sink about 2/3 full of water (depends on the depth of your sink, of course. Mine is fairly shallow).
  2. In a blender, combine about 1 1/3 sheets of torn-up, post-consumer paper with 2 cups of water. Blend for 30 seconds.
  3. Insert the mold into the sink, getting the water to within about 1/2" of the top.
  4. Pour the blended slurry into the mold.
  5. Agitate it with your fingers.
  6. Carefully, but without delay, lift the mold straight up in the air.
  7. Use various techniques to squeeze water out of the sheet, using a sponge and some screens (it's not that complicated, but you don't want to read about it, and I don't want to write it).
  8. Dry the sheet! I leave it stuck to the window for a while and then, when it starts to fall off, press it under some books (with dry "couch sheets," as they're called, to absorb the moisture).
Really, it took me all of 5 minutes and one or two awkward attempts to get the hang of it. And within about 4 sheets I, being me, was tired of straightforward pages and started adding leaves (without reading directions on how to do so--that resulted in some weirdness) and blending for different lengths of time, etc. One technique I made up is to blend one sheet for 15 seconds, add 1/3 of a sheet in a slightly different color or with writing on it, and blend for the second 15 seconds. This produces interesting textures, and sometimes letters or fragments of words show up in the paper. I love it!

Below is a scanned image of one of the sheets I made yesterday using this newly invented technique (which is, I'm sure, not unique to me, but hey! I didn't read about it or ANYTHING).

It's not like a money-saving hobby (although I do intend to use it as the basis for many Christmas presents), but it is a form of recycling, and it's fun! Plus, I haven't found anywhere around here to buy handmade paper for bookbinding, so it'll be useful there.


What Now? said...

So in some ways it's not quite paper-MAKING but is sort of paper-REFORMING, turning torn-up regular old paper into beautiful paper?

And you do bookbinding also? I'm so impressed!

Let me ask you another question: Can you actually bring yourself to write on your beautiful paper? I love gorgeous paper but always feel that I need to write something profound in elegant handwriting, a combination that essentially kills my ability to say anything at all. (It's only in the last couple of years that I've started forcing myself to use the lovely soaps that I've been given over the years, which I've carefully moved from house to house without ever unwrapping.)

heu mihi said...

I've started using the lovely soaps, myself. Now it's become a luxury that TM and I have for ourselves: We ALWAYS use nice soaps! (Especially for handwashing.) When you always have them around, then you don't have to worry about wasting them on your unworthy flesh. (Kidding. Sort of. WN, you and I are very alike in some ways, I think.)

Anyway, I haven't actually tried to write on the paper yet. This is the first time I've made it since high school, which I did use in art projects. I think that I'll be able to write on it once I have a whole bunch of sheets, so I'm not conscious of using it *up.* (Other than the sheets that I screwed up in the beginning, about which I don't have to worry about being worthy. Much.)

Also, I'm planning to give a lot of this paper away--in one form or another--so I'll just have to encourage everyone ELSE to write on it.

I did make myself a really cool little book a few years ago, actually, that I've never written in at all. It needs very special content of some kind. I usually don't have that problem with books, but this one is particularly nifty (and small, so it can't just serve as a diary, as most of them do). So I guess I do suffer from the problem that you mention.

Frediny said...

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