Qualities of Handmade Paper

It can be difficult to describe the visual qualities of handmade paper, so I photographed some examples of cotton and abaca from around the CBPA studios.

Below are several sheets of abaca in various thicknesses.  Abaca is a long fiber that can be formed into very thin, translucent sheets of paper (left), or thick, stiff paper that is reminiscent of animal parchment (right).

Below is a collection of small, thin sheets of abaca that have been dried using different methods in our studio.

Visually, abaca like this can take on the translucency of vellum, but more pliable and fibrous. See the close-up, below.

Cotton paper is a bit more familiar to artists, and is often used in printmaking and watercolor applications.  Below, I have included a photo of cotton rag (bottom left), which tends to be stiff, and a sturdy ground to use for drawing, printing and painting onto.  Cotton linter (top right) is softer than rag paper, and is more pliable for folding and manipulating into sculptural forms.  Pictured in between the two cotton papers is another sheet of medium-thin abaca.

Handmade papers of different fibers are often used together to achieve artistic effects, such as overlays in books. Below is a plain sheet of medium weight abaca atop a medium weight sheet of cotton rag.

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