Thursday, May 3, 2007

Pulp to Paper

The smaller frame is called a deckle and holds the pulp to a size and shape. After water drains from screen, the deckle is removed and then the paper is transferred onto a damp, absorbent felt and put in a press.


Watermarks are made using 28-32 gauge wire shaped into desired design and attached to wire frame or screen with string. Fibers settle around shape and design is imprinted onto paper. After paper has been pressed, the watermark leaves no indentation but it visible when held up to light. Traditionally, watermarks were used to distinguish paper types as well as paper makers.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Linen to Pulp

This is the linen after sitting in bleach, not yet blended into pulp.

Crafting Paper

Paper originated in China [c. 2nd century] but did not reach Europe until the mid 14th century, the late Middle Ages. Prior to paper, medieval scribes [often monks] used parchment or vellum - stretched and smoothed skins of goats and calves. Medieval paper was made of linen rags, which I used. I let linens soak in bleach to break down fibers. Traditionally this was done by soaking for a longer period of time without bleach. After the linen disintegrates it is beaten [for this I used a blender]; this mixed with water makes linen pulp. A frame of wires is then dipped in a vat of pulp, the frame picks up fibers while the water drips through. I used a pre-made screen rather than wires on my frame. The fibers interlock creating paper and from the frame the paper is transferred onto an absorbent felt then pressed [I used the book press that I made].

The Alchemy of Inkmaking

In the Middle Ages, black ink was either make of lampblack [carbon soot from a flame] or from oak galls of oak trees. Carbon ink is easier to make than the gall ink, but also inferior to gall ink. Carbon ink is grittier and not as permanent as gall ink. Getting soot to use for carbon ink can be done by placing a flat metal surface directly over a flame and leaving for around 10 minutes [do sit the metal on something to hold it, rather than using hands]. Soot should build up on surface and can be scraped off with a blade. The soot should become powdery and should be mixed with gum arabic [dried sap from the acacia tree]. Gum arabic can be found at a local craft store. If the ink is too thick, one might add water, but do this after adding the gum arabic. The soot does not mix well with water alone.