Papermaking Day

I never used to understand the appeal of making paper. Rip up a sheet of paper, put it in a blender and make… a sheet of paper! How exciting. I stuck to found and purchased papers and left the wet stuff to other folks.

Then one day a long while back I got curious. I made a primitive mould and deckle with some screen, tore up some old junk mail, shoved the pieces in a blender with some water…and made some surprisingly cool-looking papers. I was hooked.

I eventually got a pour-style mould and some dried sheets of different kinds of pulps from Carriage House Paper. I discovered the thrill of experimenting with various (and sometimes strange) inclusions and the joy of running one’s fingers through a vat of cool proto-paper slush.

On the other hand, it can be a tiring process. I went for a long time without doing it. Then recently my friend Michele wanted to start making paper. I loaned her some books, which was all well and good, but what she most wanted, please, was a demo of that pour mould. And so I pulled out the old papermaking paraphernalia.

We got some especially interesting results with a mix of blue jean and sisal pulps, which I’d been rehydrating since the day before. Michele is a hoot. She’s a former mathematician, and at one point in the process she expressed out loud her desire to have a math book to deface–this paper would sure be improved with some equations! Said I, gazing at my pile of university library discards, “Would physics do?”

The results are still drying under clamps and boards. I can’t wait.

3 thoughts on “Papermaking Day”

  1. Haha! Sounds like you had a lot of fun. I wish I had been there. I always wanted to try making paper, but didn't dare in case it turned my flat into one big bathtube.
    Putting in math books – not bad! Reminds me of the Combat paper project. :-) I only used all the print outs of math papers for guards and blotters.
    Maybe I should try one day…

  2. Mathematical equations are beautiful images to behold, a type of calligraphy maybe, except that we might not always understand what is being said but we know it might be profound. What better way to breath more life into discarded math books? Thanks for a fun afternoon.

  3. It was a fun day. Wish you could've been there too, BT. I wonder what two math-related people would've come up with! As for turning the studio into a bathtub…. heh heh… I just try to keep any precious papers out of the immediate vicinity. (Although, truth be told, it's not really that bad if you keep the production small. It helps that I don't have carpeting in the studio!)

    I'm glad that you, M., as someone with that background calls the bits of formulas and equations a type of calligraphy. I've used torn out bits of the physics books in painted backgrounds when I make cards and things. I find the pieces of equations and strings of sentences about optics and waveforms incredibly poetic and beautiful. But the former academic in me sometimes feels mildly guilty using peoples' research in such a way. However, I also cut up reproductions of peoples' paintings for similar purposes. Is it not similar?


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