Formation aid slows down the drainage of the pulp allowing the papermaker to form more even and consistent sheets. Add the formation aid mix slowly and in small quantities to the vat of pulp. The pulp will have a slippery feel, and drain slowly through the screen or mesh of your mould. Add more formation aid if the pulp is draining unnecessarily quickly.
Formation aid is a synthetic version of ‘tororo-aoi’, a plant grown in Japan for use in the ‘nagashizuki’ style of Japanese papermaking. It is used in the making of thin papers from long-fibered pulps, and is also invaluable in the techniques of pulp painting and pulp spraying.
The PEO powder is mixed with cold water at 6g of PEO powder to 4 litres of water to develop the Formation Aid. This is then added to the pulp in the vat.
Start slowly adding the PEO powder to the water, mixing constantly, thoroughly and vigorously. If lumps form, add the formation aid more slowly. Let the solution sit for several hours before using, stir occasionally to ensure the powder has been completely dissolved. Alternatively fill a blender with around 1 litre of water, cover and turn on the blender. Remove the lid and sprinkle in approximately 2g of PEO while the blender is swirling; let the blender run for another five seconds. The formation aid should be completely dissolved at this point, and ready to use. If it is too thick, add more water. Only prepare the amount of formation aid to be used within 12 hours. Over time the viscosity and effectiveness of the solution will reduce.