I made several sheets of paper by creating a pulp from small pieces of scrap paper which were soaked overnight in boiling water (or for one batch – soaked for several days as I got distracted by work). The soaked paper was then put into the food processor and liquidised to create a pulp.
To make the paper I used a sheet of plastic embroidery canvas (number 6 of the grids shown in Chapter 3) , a large roasting tin, an old bath mat and lots of ‘J-cloths’. The technique used was to half fill the roasting dish with water, add some pulp and then slide the mesh under the pulp. Once it was under I swilled it around to coat the mesh and lifted the pulp-covered mesh out of the water. I then placed it onto the cloth covered mat and placed a cloth over the top to soak up the excess water.
Once the excess water had been removed I gently peeled the paper off the mesh and placed it on the top of the Rayburn stove to dry. This was a perfect drying place as it was flat , hot and dried the sheets in about 10 minutes without them becoming bent or curling up as they dried.
I made two batches. For the first batch I used old sewing pattern tissue paper which produced a light brown colour, like a Manila envelope. For the second I used white writing paper and lining wallpaper which created a slightly off-white paper. The paper made from the sewing pattern was stronger than the second batch i.e. it held together better whilst wet when removing it from the mesh. It also had a pleasant, slightly fluffy feel like blotting paper whereas the second batch was quite crisp and stiff.
I added various objects to the wet sheets of paper
Image 4.1 and 4.2
I pressed some Cyclamen petal into the wet paper. I used fairly fresh petals as I wanted to see if they would transfer some colour to the paper as it dried. Most of the petals dropped off but they did leave some slight imprints which are attractive.m
Image 4.3 – tissue paper crosses embedded.
Image 4.4 – letters cut from Yellow Pages phone directory embedded and sprinkled with Brusho ink powder whilst wet.
Image 4.7 – Dennis the Menace paper – embedded bits of The Beano
Image 4.8 – fragments of stamps embedded
I found that, as long as the material being embedded was dry and quite thin, it bonded well. The petals didn’t bond well, but I imagine dried petals would be more successful if they had a papery texture.
Positive shape letter
I cut out a ‘W’-shape from the mesh and followed the same procedure as previously to create the letter shape shown in image 4.9.
Negative shape letter
I used the ‘W’-shape mesh made previously, wrapped it in cling film and pinned it centrally on top of my rectangular mesh. I then made a piece of paper in the usual way, but lifted the W’-shape mesh off which left a negative W-shape as shown in image 4.10 below. Where the pulp fibres were shortest it created quite a sharp edge to the letter. However, I preferred the parts where larger bits of paper in the pulp created more ‘frayed’ looking edges.
I tried laminating a few materials between two layers of wet paper.
Images 4.11 and 4.12
Images 4.11 and 4.12 show Lichen being laminated. This created an interesting, lumpy paper revealing glimpses of the Lichen in places.
Images 4.13 and 4.14
Images 4.13 and 4.14 show a dried fern leaf that I tried to embed. This didn’t work as there was insufficient surface area left for the two papers to bond together. It did however create a quite a detailed imprint of the fern.
This was not particularly effective on the front but the back (image 4.16) had interesting marks.
I tried a slightly different approach to laminating by stitching some loops of thread into a dried paper and then added a layer of pulp over the top as seen in image 4.17 below. The dry paper was from my first batch and the wet pulp was from my paler second batch which created a really interesting effect.
In image 4.19 Lengths of knotted cotton thread added between two layers of wet paper. This produced a very organic looking paper which I was pleased with.
It was not particularly easy to emboss the wet papers. I tried several times before getting a few that worked in thicker pieces of paper as shown below.
Image 4.21 – garden twine
Image 4.22 – twigs
Two different coloured pulps
I split part of my pulp into two pots and coloured it using Brusho inks
In image 4.23 I placed a cookie cutter shape onto my mesh. I then filled the cutter shape with blue pulp and levelled it out before filling the centre and surround with yellow pulp. I drained it on my cloths, removed the cutter and dried it. The blue pulp bled into the yellow creating a soft edge to the shape.
I made a sheet using blue pulp then used a pencil to create 12 holes which I filled with yellow pulp and dried the sheet.
Images 4.26 and 4.27
Layer of wrapping paper and wet paper stuck together. The colour from the wrapping paper bled through to the surface of the wet paper when dried.
Images 4.27 – back 4.28 – front
Mesh made of woven strips of ‘Yellow Pages’ immersed in pulp and coated
I had never made paper before and found this chapter very gratifying; turning bits of scrap into unique sheets of paper with unpredictable results. I imagine I will use these techniques a lot to create interesting surfaces on which to work. I will try a different type of mesh which leaves less of an imprint on the paper.
Image 4.29 below shows how I used one of my samples which didn’t work when I tried embossing. Rather than throw it away I used it for a sketchbook project I am involved in and monoprinted onto it.