Thursday, February 09, 2006

Paper making

My new skill for this week is learning to make paper. Here is a photo of the results of my first effort. I am teaching myself from a how-to book, and an old paper making kit that someone gave my daughter when she was little. Naturally my goal is to produce suffient quantities and quality of incredibly amazing paper to make my own books, but I expect it will take me quite some practice. Meanwhile, I've got some not too lumpy, not too thick, rather pretty, blue note paper to show for my first efforts. (And so proud am I of this effort that I actually wrote two letters on it to send snail mail when I really could have just sent emails as usual!)

To make my note paper, I soaked all the non-glossy scrap paper I could find, but I wasn't sufficiently robust in excluding the presence of ink to avoid creating pulp the colour of dust bunnies. Fortunately my instruction book was correct when it suggested that the easiest way to make coloured paper is with coloured napkins. I put a couple of dark blue ones in the food processor and voila! Paper the colour of faded indigo with flecks of white and red.

How-to make paper guides consistently describe the desired consistency of the pulp as 'thin porridge'. Porridge is such an individual thing and it seems my porridge preferences are thicker than most paper makers, as my idea of 'thin porridge' was stodgey enough to make cardboard. However, once I thinned it to what I consider the consistency of cloudy broth, then my sheets started coming out like paper.

It was immensely satisfying to progress from the lumpy misshapen cardboard of my first few sheets to the relatively thin, smooth, square papers of an hour later. I look forward to many happy hours of messy water play (this is definitely an outside activity) as I continue to refine my technique and understanding of the process.

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