FINE HANDMADE PAPERS
Functional papers made in a sustainable way
THE PAPERMAKING PROCESS
The process starts by selecting the proper raw fiber materials for the type of paper desired. Cotton fibers create papers that are thick, soft and bulky, while abaca fibers create paper that is thin and strong. I regularly work with over 15 cellulose materials, from recycled fabrics to raw plant materials, to create a wide variety of papers. Each of them requires special preparation, like sorting, washing or cooking. Then the materials are added to a speciality machine called a Hollander beater. This machine macerates fibers allowing them to swell and absorb water. Each paper type requires special beating treatment, taking anywhere between 3 - 12 hours.
FIBER PREPARATION + BEATING
Once the fiber is pulped, it is dispersed into a vat of water, and the sheets are pulled. I use a set of tools called a mould and deckle, all of which are custom handmade to the sizes of paper that I make. The mould and deckle is scooped through the watery slurry, then expertly shaken, leaving the fibers evenly distributed on the surface of the mesh. Some fiber creeps under the edge of the deckle, creating the beautiful, natural, uneven deckle edges. In an average day, 100-300 sheets of paper are made in this manner.
Each sheet of paper is removed from the mould using a rocking motion called "couching," from the french "couche" meaning to lay down. Many sheets of paper are stacked together, with interleavings, then the stack of papers, called a post, is pressed using hydraulic pressure to remove water and aid in fiber cohesion. My pressing process takes two hours and involves double pressing to assure the sheets are ready for drying.
COUCHING + PRESSING
My papers are hung to dry in spurs. This drying method allows my papers to dry quickly, but also extremely flat. When dry, the sheets are peeled, which is my favourite part of the process. I love the sound and the sense of accomplishment examining the finished sheets. The final step is sorting. Papers are graded based on formation quality and imperfections. Only the most perfect sheets are sold for full price. Seconds are sold at a discounted price, and third rate sheets, called "broke" are cut for use in collage packs. The papers are then matured under weight to stabilize their moisture content and to allow the the internal sizings to activate.