HAND PAPERMAKING

11/2018

I am in the process of setting up a ‘real’ paper making studio in Knoxville, TN and should be operational by late 2018. Pictures will be posted periodically so check back. My initial capabilities are targeted as follows:

Cooking and beating with a Naginata or Hollander beater, one gallon per batch pulping capacity, 11×17 paper size, 10 sheets per batch, pressing, calendaring, and casting, using dyes and other additives.

I plan to continue my art and branch out into custom batches of paper, blank books, sample books, and cast household objects. I am also interested in doing collaborations, demonstrations, and classes.

12/8/18 UPDATE – MAKING PAPER

I purchased a large stainless table from a used restaurant equipment supplier, 108 x 40", and added a water faucet and drain.
I purchased a 108 x 40″ ‘washing table’ from a used restaurant supply company and hooked up a faucet and drain. This makes for an easy to clean work area.
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Pulp and molds. My molds are about 11 x 17″ and made from painting stretchers and bamboo placemats with a loose plastic screen.
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Freshly molded paper, lumpy because I am using only a blender so far.
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My first 4 batches of paper, based on leek tops, asparagus stems, pine needles, and cat tail leaves, all with 50% abaca for structure.

05/2019 UPDATE

It has been some time since I posted an update, but I have not been idle. I have continued to make paper, continued to work with dyes, have tried several different paper related art techniques, and have built two versions of my small beater, with a third in planning. I have also built a drying box so I can hold my paper flat during drying.

For dying, I have had limited success with natural dyes and have some good colors, some not so good colors and some colors that fade quickly. I also discovered the Tulip One Step Tie Dye Kit, with modern synthetic dyes, which has proven to be a low cost source for multiple bright colors. The dye seems to work very well for paper, especially when used with Carriage House retention agent. (Later note, I am switching to Aardvark pigments from Carriage House because one step fabric dyes usually contain sodium carbonate or some other mordant.)

For paper fiber, I am sort of settling on abaca sheet pulp for the base and also using Kozo and Gampi bark. My small beater is capable of processing the cooked bark, but doesn’t provide a smooth enough pulp for pulp painting. Other fibers can be added for more texture, such as leeks, asparagus, cattail, or grasses. Vegetable fibers seem to result in high shrinkage during drying. My current beater can process 75 grams of fiber in 2 gallons of water, enough for up to 6 sheets of paper. The photos below show details of the beater, which runs vertically using a small drill press for power. The beating element is 3″ diameter and the smooth disks act like a Naginata beater. In this second version, slotted side plates have also been added which have a tight clearance to the disks and add some Hollander beater function. In order to compensate for the small diameter, the beater must be run at a very high speed, and I use up to 3000 rpm, with slower speeds used initially until the fiber has broken up. In my 3rd version, being planned, I am going to make the Hollander action more aggressive. (later note, regarding a Hollander beater, just do it!)

By using deep deckles and pouring my pulp, I am able to dye each sheet of a batch a different color and use all my pulp from each batch.

Techniques I have experimented with include molding, folding and gluing, layering, pulp painting, and pulp sculpting. I’m experimenting both to learn more about handling paper and to find my particular artists voice among all the technology and diverse options of papermaking. For many of my experiments, my wife has commented that it looks like it was made by a third grader, but I actually made some pieces a few weeks ago that she likes. These are being entered in two upcoming shows. I have taken a 2 day class in pulp painting at The Morgan Conservatory and am signed up for a week long class at Carriage House Paper in July. These classes are very valuable to get a feel for handling pulps and the tools used.

The photos below show some examples of my experiments and include gluing and folding, layering, pulp painting, pulp sculpturing, and pulp molding.

08/2019 UPDATE

I have completed my class at Carriage House, and really learned a lot about techniques, materials, and practical hints for doing all the various steps of papermaking, very valuable. Back home now, I have ordered more supplies and decided to finally build a Hollander beater, which seems the most capable and versatile of various beater designs.  It is quite small, only 5 gallons of water and 1/2 pound of pulp per batch. This size is balanced with my ‘wet bench’ approach to papermaking (i.e, not wet floor or wet room). And the size is balanced with my desire to make a lot of variety rather than runs of multiple duplicate sheets. I hope to start trial runs with it in about 2 weeks. Along the way I have also built a screw press and a drying box. I have signed up for a show at the Emporium Art Center in Knoxville for the month of November and have formulated my ‘5 step marketing plan’ for papers and art. I will post some pictures of the beater and new work in a few weeks.