A few weeks ago, a new paper mould came in the mail. The form is for an 11 by 14 inch page size. As a publisher of poetry, that size is good for two reasons. First, it can be folded into quarters to make eight pages into a hand-built book. That’s exciting to me. Second, it’s a perfect size for making a poetry broadside. This is also exciting.

A couple days ago, I tore up some paper from my recycle box of trimmings generated by the cards and books I make.

This is Egress Studio's recycled paper bin overflowing with paper trimmings.

This is Egress Studio’s recycled paper bin overflowing with trimmings.

As the paper is torn up, it goes into a bucket of water to rest and soak for a day or two.

Bucket of water and torn paper.

Bucket of water and torn paper.

Tearing paper is good exercise for your fingers, hands and wrists. Besides the blue and green papers, I added some white, yellow, and manila-colored papers. Text weight and heavier card stock works without a problem. I also used cotton linters for the first time. That was interesting. I’ll probably write a post about that, too.

Inside the Bucket

Taking a closer look, you can see torn paper in water. No surprise. But I do like how sunlight comes in through the bucket on the left and spreads over the paper.

After soaking for 24 to 48 hours, I set up to make the paper. I arranged my designated-for-paper blender, two large boards, lots of old towels, a couple buckets to hold the pulp, and a bin large enough to dip the 11″by14″ paper mould. I made a huge watery mess inside the studio yesterday. First, I ran the paper and linter chunks through the blender—a little at a time—with paper sizing added, and put the pulp in two separate buckets: one for the recycled paper and one for the white cotton linters. Water goes all over the cement floor. I make paper outside whenever possible for that very reason. Papermaking requires plenty of water. The bin is filled half-full of water, and then about eight cups of pulp is added. I used about half recycled and half linters at first. When I ran out of the linters, I just used up the recycled paper. I also added some mermaid hair algae (from our pond) and, to one batch, the lint of green-dyed wool yarn. Well, I used scissors, so it was actually fresh-cut-lint, but that sounds ridiculous.

Each time I dipped the mould into the pulp bin, I “rolled” a sheet of soon-to-be paper onto a felt sheet, which was dampened earlier so it would accept the paper off the mould a little easier. I made a stack of the new sheets on one of the large boards, and when the pulp was used up, took the dripping stack outside, put the other board on top and stood on it for a while. Water gushed out everywhere at this point. I put a couple of cement bricks on top, and let it sit until this morning.

This morning, I put the clothes line in front of the furnace, found my clothespins, and began to hang the paper to dry. At first, I messed a few of the papers up, but I can use them anyway. They can be ironed, and I can use them in artworks where flatness and squareness isn’t as important as when the paper might be used in a book or as a broadside.

The old clothes line, umbrella style.

The old clothes line, umbrella style.

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Sunlight and clotheslines go well together.

The paper turned out a beautiful, creamy light green, just as I’d hoped. I’ll make better paper later. The wrinkles, bubbles and tears are all things that can be avoided. This was the first stack of paper I made with the new larger mould, so I got a little carried away this morning when removing the felts from the stack. But I was careful enough with a large percentage of them.

The rest of the photos show the texture and color of the papers. I made an attempt at replicating the color for the internet. It’s close. In these photos, you can see the white felts, which aren’t felt at all, but synthetic. They do their job very well. And you can see some of the textures and incidentals. Papermakers call added flower petals, lint, algae, etc., “incidentals,” which is a good use of the word.

Four papers hanging.

Four papers hanging.

One sheet of paper.

This sheet of paper was fairly uniform.

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This sheet is not in focus, but you can see larger chunks of the white cotton linters and long streaks of mermaid hair algae.

Corner

As the paper dries, it lightens up a bit. Deckle edges.

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Another corner has lots of texture. If I feel like it, I can iron this sheet so it would be much flatter, but I’ll decide that later.

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This is one of the things I’m trying for with the mermaid hair algae. I like it when the individual strand standsBellin out a little. Not too much, not to little. (It’s possible I’ll need new glasses if I’m going to continue taking photos.)

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I also like it when the paper looks sort of like a science project.

The paper is still drying downstairs. It probably has another day or two to go. Then, I’ll put it in high-graded stacks, and see what I can do with it.