2020 Project: Exploring Papermaking

Ever wonder how paper is made? Me too. So I set out to learn to make paper. I have always had an interest in fiber arts, book binding, making journals and really everything that paper has to offer. Even in this digital age, we live in, there is something to be said for the tactile feel of a book, the smell of the pages, and the ink on the paper.

Paper pulp relief sculpture. By A. O’Dette

While I was in Graduate School, I took a course in papermaking. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it literally went through the process of breaking down fibers, creating molds and pressing paper, albeit, there was a lot more to making paper than I ever realized. We learned how to cook our fibers, pull them apart, beat the pulp, sizing, pulling sheets of paper, and using molds and deckles. I learned how to make Cotton Paper, Kozo Paper, Abica Paper, Casting Pulp, and Rag Pulp.

Rag Pulp was very interesting. We made paper from clothing. I used an old purple floral cotton dress for my project. First I had to cut the dress into small pieces and let them soak for ten minutes. Next, I had to beat the pulp for 45-90 minutes, depending on how the texture of the fiber sounds. Then I had to pull my sheets using a mold and deckle. The last step is to press the paper and let it dry.

Pulp Beater

Sounds easy? Actually making paper is pretty labor-intensive and requires a lot of water and studio space, but it is so rewarding. The finished results are very satisfying. Different papers can be used to create relief sculptures, abstract three-dimensional sculptures and beautiful sheets of paper to use in bookbinding and creating art journals. The possibilities are endless when it comes to making paper.

This year one of my goals is to reuse, recycle and re-purpose fibers to make a hand made junk journal from cover to cover. I’d like to keep a log of my progress and post my journey. This should be a challenge because I do not have all of the equipment to make paper, but necessity is the mother of all invention… So they say. What are your artful plans for 2020? Are you going to challenge yourself to learn a new medium? I know I am and I can not wait to get started.

Artfully yours,