Monday, March 9, 2009

How It's Done

Admit it, you've always wanted to know how paper is made. So here it is - a photo commentary of me making paper at the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts paper-making studio in Chicago.

1. The vat is full of 100% cotton fiber pulp.
2. After dipping the screen and deckle, I pull it up and let excess water drip off. Then I remove the deckle.
3. I walk over to my couching area (pronounced cooch - it's a French thing) where my plywood board has wet layers of felt and non-woven fiber pellon.
4. In a rolling motion, I press the wet pulp onto the wet pellon.
5. Wet attracts wet, so the sheet transfers from the screen to the pellon.
6. As I make more sheets, I separate them with more layers of wet pellon.
7. I stack the same size sheets on top of each other in each layer.
8. For pulp paintings, I pour over-beaten dyed pulp onto the newly formed sheet.
9. With the addition of a top layer of pellon and felt, my work gets sandwiched between another plywood board and goes into the hydraulic press. Here two things happen: water is squeezed out, and the pressure causes the chemical hydrogen bonding process - which means the sheet is no longer pulp, it is paper, and only needs to dry.

So now you know.