Paper By Hand
mold (screen) and deckle (You may purchase a
kit from TAPPI; kits are also available
from craft shops, art supply stores, and toy
stores.) You may make your own using an embroidery
hoop and flexible plastic window screening or
stiff net curtain. Simply place the square of
screening over the inside part of the embroidery
hoop. Then attach the top portion, leaving it
slightly higher that the surface of the screen
to form a deckle.)
- toilet tissue,
facial tissue, or paper towels
- large mixing
- wire whisk
or hand egg beater
- large plastic
bin large enough to accommodate the papermaking
mold and deckle
- kitchen towel,
newspapers, or paper towels, folded
- rolling pin
- cookie sheet
or other flat surface
- glitter, confetti,
dried flowers (optional)
This activity can be messy.
If you are doing this activity at home, be sure
to check with your parents or other adult before
you begin. Wear old clothes. If it's a nice day,
you may do this activity outside on a card table.
If you are inside, place a layer of newspapers on
the floor underneath your work area.
Before you begin, gather all of
your supplies together and put them out on the
counter. Read all of the directions from start
to finish, to become familiar with the procedure.
Now you are ready to begin.
1. First, tear up about 4 cups
of toilet tissue, facial tissue, or paper towels
into pieces about the size of a postage stamp.
Place these into the mixing bowl. Next add enough
warm water to cover the paper (about 1-2 cups
should do). Watch as the paper starts to absorb
water and break down into soggy mush. What you
are seeing is the wood fibers in the paper separating
from one another. Papermakers call this mushy
2. Now, using the wire whisk or
hand egg beater, mix the pulp until the fibers
are separated and evenly distributed. No large
clumps should remain. You may use your hands to
break apart any remaining lumps.
3. Pour your pulp into the large
plastic bin, and add more water until the bin
is about half full. This watery mixture is called
a slurry. Stir the slurry around with your hands.
The consistency should be similar to very thin
oatmeal. The thicker the slurry, the thicker your
piece of paper will be. If it is too thick, add
more water. If it is too thin, make another batch
of pulp and add it to the slurry a little at a
time until it reaches the desired consistency.
4. Fold the kitchen towel,
newspapers, or paper towels into a thick pad about
1 inch think and about the size of your papermaking
screen, and place it on the cookie sheet. This
pad is called a couching (pronounced "cooch-ing")
mound. You will be turning your wet sheet of paper
onto this couching mound to dry.
|5. Now hold your
paper mold (the screen part) horizontal above the
slurry, screen side up. Place the deckle (the part
with no screen) on top of the mold so they fit together
squarely. Holding them together firmly with a hand
on each side, lower them down into the slurry at
about a 45 degree angle to the bottom of the bin,
and then straighten them out so that they are horizontal.
Swirl them around in the slurry a little, so that
the fibers are suspended and evenly distributed
in the water. Now, with the fibers still in motion,
lift the mold and deckle straight up out of the
| 6. Hold the mold
and deckle over the bin so that water can drain
out into the bin. As the water is draining out,
gently shake the mold and deckle from side to side
and forwards and backwards to help the fibers settle.
An even layer of pulp should cover the mesh. If
you see a lot of holes, return the sheet to the
slurry and begin again. If the layer is too thin,
you may need to make another batch of pulp and add
it a little at a time until slurry reaches the desired
| 7. When the water
has stopped draining out, remove the deckle. (If
no deckle has been used, the edges will be irregular.
You may leave them uneven if you like, or you may
form edges using a ruler or spatula,)
8. Turn the mold over onto
the couching mound using a quick motion so as
not to tear your sheet. Slowly roll the mold from
one edge of the screen to the other to loosen
the sheet. If necessary, you may use a spatula
to carefully separate the sheet from the mesh.
| 9. Place a towel
or layer of paper towels on top on your sheet. Using
a rolling pin, firmly but gently roll to remove
more water. Carefully remove the top layer of toweling.
Now lay your sheet, which is still attached to the
bottom layer of toweling, out to dry. Your paper
should be dry and ready to use in a few hours. You
may speed up the process by removing the sheet of
paper from the couch mound, or by placing it outside
in the sun or in a sunny window.
you have mastered the technique, experiment with
new materials to make and decorate your paper. Pull
apart some cotton balls and add them to the slurry
(real cotton, as opposed to synthetic, works best).
Or try adding confetti, glitter, or dried flowers
to the damp sheet before drying. Add a few drops
of food coloring to the slurry to make colored paper.
There is no limit to the number of different looks
you can achieve.
fluid, puff paint, or waterproof wood glue
- flexible plastic
window screening (available at hardware and
home supply stores) or net curtaining (available
at fabric stores), about 18" square, or
just large enough for your embroidery hoop
- hand papermaking
supplies (see above)
The watermark patterns you will make in the activity
become permanently affixed to your papermaking screen.
Do not use a purchased mold for this activity unless
you are willing to have the watermark become permanently
affixed to your mold.
A watermark is an area in a piece
of paper that is thinner than the rest of the
sheet. You can see a watermark best when paper
is held up to the light. Watermarks are often
used by paper manufacturers to indicate their
company name on the sheet, particularly on fine
stationery. You can make your own watermark in
your handmade paper by following these steps:
1. First, think of a design you
would like to use as a watermark. It may be your
initial, your favorite animal, or a special logo
of your own.
2. Sketch the design on a piece
of paper, keeping in mind the size of your screen.
Try to make the design clear and simple, with
as few lines as possible, but dark enough so that
it shows through when the window screen or net
curtaining is placed on top of it.
3. Place your screening or netting
on top of your design, and carefully trace the
design onto the screen or netting with correction
fluid, puff paint, or glue. Do not make the lines
too thick, as this will cause holes to form in
your sheet of paper.
4. Now wait until the design has
completely hardened (follow package directions).
Your screen is now ready for use in papermaking.