Paper Studio: Making Paper from Pulp

We begin the process of papermaking with dried, plant based fiber- such as cotton, flax or abaca- which each result in a very different type of sheet.  The first step is to rehydrate the fiber, and then beat that fiber into a pulp.  We have several commercial beaters in the Studio, shown below is the Reina 2lb beater in action, turning flax into pulp.

Once the pulp is beaten, it is stored in large bins until production begins. Shown below is a bin of pulped cotton.

The tools we use to form western sheets of paper are a mould (a large wire screen) and deckle (a wooden frame that fits atop the mould).   Below are two moulds and deckles, and pellon, felts, and boards that will be used to press the sheets of paper.

The next step is to fill large vats with water (above), and add pulp to the vats.  The pulp must then be “hogged,” or mixed thoroughly with your hands, to disperse the fibers evenly in the water.  More pulp is added for thicker paper, less is added for thin sheets.

Once the pulp is prepared in the vat, we can begin to pull sheets.   The mould and deckle are dipped into the pulp at an angle and then pulled straight upward, so the pulp and water lay on top of the mould.  We then move the mould back and forth to make sure the page is even.

The mould and deckle is then set aside to drain the excess water from the sheet.

Once the sheet is drained, it is “couched,” or pressed onto a flat pellon or felt.  More pellons or felts are placed on top, and more paper can be couched on top in layers, until the all of the paper is ready to be pressed.

The hydraulic paper press then adds pressure to remove the remaining water in the paper, pellons and felts.

The sheets of paper can then be dried in a variety of ways, each of which results in a different texture or transparency in the finished sheet.  In our studio we use 2 cold press methods, 2 hot press methods, or an exchange drying system.


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