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Handmade Papermaking with Pulp

Use handmade paper for card making, paper crafts or as a surface for stitch.

Pulps - an Overview

Handmade paper with natural dyestuff inclusions The papermaking supplies offered on this site have been chosen for the qualities they can bring to your handmade paper.

Linters are made from the pulp of short cotton fibres, partially beaten and formed into dry sheets that resemble ‘blotting paper’. You simply tear them up, soak them overnight and then blend them with a food blender to create paper ‘porridge’. These Cotton Linters will create a smooth paper with strength, durability and permanence.

The handmade papers, pictured above, were made by Jo Barrell with our ready to use white Cotton Pulp. Jo added Natural Dyestuffs for texture.

Creamy coloured Bamboo pulp sheets contain partially beaten fibres, formed into dry sheets that resemble ‘blotting paper’. Bamboo fibre has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. The pulp from the Daphne bush can be used to make the highly textured Lokta paper which is offered on this site.

You can use any plant fibre for papermaking, the fibres can be 'broken' down further by boiling them in a solution of soda ash.

 

Recycled Denim FibresTo make handmade paper you will need the following:

  • Pulp crumble or/and linters or/and recycled waste papers
  • Mould and deckle
  • Washing up bowl
  • 2 wooden boards (for pressing excess water from paper)
  • Couching cloths
  • Handheld blender/liquidiser
  • Newspaper/protective table covering

Preparation

Cover your work surfaces with newspaper or a protective cover. If using linters, tear into strips and soak them overnight in cold water.

  1. Empty the pulp crumble into a washing up bowl half full of warm water. Using a hand held blender, blend for 10-15 seconds. The pulp should look like porridge and feel like silk. Repeat this process if lumps remain, (if using linters or recycled papers, blend in the goblet of a liquidiser which is half-filled with water, but be careful not to overload).
  2. mould and deckle pulp paprmakingPrepare a couching mound by folding 2/3 sheets of newspaper into eighths. Place these on top of your work surface and cover with a sheet of unfolded newspaper. Put a couching cloth on top of the pile and wet the lot.
    The purpose of this couching mound is to ease the wet pulp off the mould after all the sheets have been made.
    Every time you make a new sheet of paper, you need to put down a new couching cloth to receive it (it is a good idea to have a supply of them at the ready).

How to use the Papermaking Deckle

  1. You are now ready to make a sheet of handmade paper. Go back and stir your pulp, which will by now have settled unhelpfully at the bottom of the bowl. Hold the mould and deckle firmly together, mould side up, deckle on top. Plunge them at 45 degrees into the gently swirling pulp mixture, at the far side of the bowl, and gently bring them towards you, still under the surface, until horizontal.
  2. Lift the mould and deckle horizontally out of the bowl, allowing the water to drain through the mesh. Gently shake them as you lift, side to side and back to front, to realign the fibres. The sheet is 90% water at this stage.
    Remove the deckle and allow surplus water to drain away.
  3. Place the long edge of the mould along the side of the couching mound. Roll the wet pulp firmly off the mound and bring the mould down firmly along its outer edge. Try to do this in one confident movement. This is easier than it looks. The trick is to push down at the beginning and pull up at the end, transferring your weight from one side of the frame to the other in an even, continuous movement.
  4. Cover the paper with a couching cloth and press it between two boards. You may choose to stack several wet sheets of paper, one on top of the other, like a pile of pancakes, before pressing.
    Dry your paper by either leaving it to dry flat on a sheet of newspaper or by hanging it out on the washing line (in both cases still keep it on the couching cloth).
    When dry, turn it face down and remove the cloth from the paper and press overnight beneath a heavy weight.

Experimenting

  • Include the various papermaking additives in your pulp to create superior handmade paper. Keep notes of the results.
  • Add texture and detail to your pictures by adding petals or threads to the pulp.
  • Create a watermark by stitching a wire shape to your mesh. Less pulp will cling to the wire, creating a watermark in the mirror image of your shape.
  • To vary the texture, try drying the paper on the mould itself, or pressing between old blankets and curtains.
  • Try making papers from plant materials such as banana or onion using soda ash and a blender
  • Use starch for sizing the pulp so that it makes the paper less porous improving the surface for writing or painting.
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