Experiments!

The other day after class I decided that I wanted to try some small scale papermaking on my own. So, I did! Here’s what happened.

I started with a pile of junk mail. I tore it up, and let it sit in a pot of water overnight.

The next day I boiled it for a while, then I shredded it some more with my fingers. A blender would have been the perfect tool to really get it pulped, but I don’t even have a blender for food let alone for paper! So I spent about an hour playing with mushy paper. It was fun, relaxing, and wet! My apartment doesn’t have air conditioning, so playing with water is fantastic! Don’t worry, I was very careful not to spill any!

After it was in tiny little pieces I boiled it again to try and break it up even more.

It got good and foamy. There’s actually a nice ring of paper around the top of the pot from where the pulp settled! While it cooled I assembled the rest of my equipment. I used two cheap picture frames and part of an old t-shirt. My couching station consisted of some felts and a towel. And my vat was a Tupperware container from Walmart.

I tied and taped the shirt to the frame:

After everything had cooled off a bit I dumped my pulp into my “vat” and added water.

And then it was time to make some paper! I dipped the mold in the vat, did the vatman’s shake, and bam! I had some paper.

And then I tried to couch it…

Yeah, that didn’t work so well. I guess there’s a reason you need real felts! So I dried it a little with my hair dryer, hung it up in my shower to dry, and then peeled it off. Didn’t work wonderfully, but given the experience I have (next to none) and the money I spent (about $6) it went really well!

This sheet didn’t go so well:

There’s a reason they say doctors and papermakers can both bury their mistakes 😉

I tried a few different things to dry the sheets I made… I pressed them under a pile of books, I hung them up for a while, and I took them out in the sun for a while.

I left them out in my living room overnight, and by the time I woke up they were perfectly dry! I’m pleased with how they turned out. As you can tell from the pictures, there are still a lot of big chunks of the original paper in them. I was surprised at just how much my soak, tear, boil, repeat method worked! There were a lot of small fibers that filled in the gaps between the big chunks. The paper is soft, but it’s strong enough to shake around and play with without breaking. Here are a few pictures of the final result:

They aren’t the most perfect or the most beautiful pieces of paper, but I think they have something interesting and unique about them, and I’m excited to try to make some more! Next time I’ll probably make sure to have some better tools!

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