Sunday, October 01, 2006


I made paper (dammit!)
OK, so this isn't headline news, or perhaps that unusual an occurrence. It certainly lacks the profound political and cultural significance of, say, Gandhi making salt. But it's something.

This whole exercise (which Catherine helped me with; the pulp she referred to as "double ewwww!") comes under the "Old Media" theme which may crop up from time to time here. I have an interest in old media. But that doesn't mean that I'll be curing sheep skins or hammering woven reeds flat any time soon. Indeed, I'm avoiding the full-on "artisanal" aspects of papermaking. With a couple of how-to books from the library tucked under my arm (with a tip of the hat to Jennifer Slack and her colleague for some references) I called the main art store in town asking if they had papermaking frames. They sort of scoffed, hinting that real papermakers construct their own down at the hardware store. So I ended up at Michaels picking up a pre-made screen (like I'm going to spend the afternoon making a frame; I don't even have time to blog!). Actually making basic paper (and this stuff I'm cranking out is as thick and ungainly as they come) is fairly easy and kinda fun.

What instigated this is my long-term love of old books (if I ever win the lottery, or if Peter Jackson options Culture and Technology for his next trilogy of films, I'd probably end up apprenticed to some book-making and repair endeavor), but the current impetus was the announcement this summer that Phoenix no longer accepts shredded paper in its recycling program (mucks up the machinery). Given that people are shredding everything these days (as they should) that means lots of perfectly recyclable paper heading back to the landfills. So this first effort was from the home shredder. A nice lavender it turned out, eh?

Next, on to figure out sizing, which is how to make paper that one can write on with ink, otherwise it's like blotter paper; and how to de-acidify it a bit so it won't brown and crumble like newspaper.

For those interested (and I doubt anyone's made it this far down the post anyway), I ended up with Arnold Grummer's Dip Handmold which comes with the frame (a "deckle"), papermaking screen, a cover screen, and a support grid. One also needs a wide basin, a blender, a bunch of towels and sponges, a cookie sheet, an iron and an ironing board. Oh, and a large heavy book wrapped in plastic (a "press bar") to smush the paper flat [I'm using Smolan, Moffitt, & Naythons "The Power to Heal: Ancient Arts and Modern Medicine," which I pulled off the shelf because it was big, heavy, and handy, though I'm sure the cultural studies doorstop would work just as well].

1 comment:

Gil said...

Have you seen this site