Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pretty! But Hold Your Breath.

The second unit in my fibers class is paper making. We take raw fibers, rip them up, throw them into a giant blender with water, and make it into a pulp. Then we strain the pulp so we can store them in buckets. When it's time to pull paper, we take a hunk of the pulp and put it into a vat of water.

Given that these are natural fibers, they want to decompose. We keep them in a giant refrigerator, but they still start to smell like sewage after a few days, it's pretty gross.

When we put the pulp in the vat of water, we have to swoosh it around to get it distributed, then we can start pulling sheets. We use a mold and deckle. The mold is a wooden frame with screen stretched over it, and the deckle is a wooden piece that fits onto the screen to create a nice edge for the paper.

Sorry for the weird picture, but I wanted you to see what it looked like.

Then we take the screen and pull it under the water, holding the screen under the water to let the fibers settle a little, then pull the mold straight out of the water.

I found these online, they illustrate it pretty well.

Once you pull the sheet, you remove the deckle and turn out the sheet onto a piece of fabric. We have a bunch of old cut up sheets we use. We layer a piece of fabric in between each sheet. Then we put our paper into a press to squeeze out as much water as possible. Then we carefully peel the paper off of the fabric and put it into a restraint dryer. The dryer presses the paper flat and uses heated air to draw out the moisture.

Here are some of my sheets:

We use kozo, flax, abaca, and cotton.

For additives I added in various colors and lengths of thread to cotton. Others used lace and other fabrics, and even food. In order to use food, you have to cook it down first. One guy in my class tore open tea bags and added that to his fiber - it was a cool effect.

We just learned to dye our fibers to make colored paper, it's fun, but messy since you have to wear rubber gloves so your hands don't change colors.

We are in the middle of this unit, so I will be sure to add my other creations.


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