In the studio: Experimenting with larger paper

By Claire Brach

My paper making journey has mainly consisted of making sheets not much bigger than A4 or 30cm square and I’ve been keen to make some larger sheets.  So Robert and I had a day in the studio where he introduced me to his own method.  Robert designed a unique mold and deckle to enable him to form larger sheets of paper, and it works quite quickly with good evenly distributed pulp.

Let’s look at his self-designed system.

He constructed a large base with mesh attached, essentially a wooden frame with struts across the underside for support and to maintain the shape.  He then made a high sided top to fit over this, with a shallow lip to allow it to slip over the base on three sides, and form a seal around the lower section.  It will be easier to understand as we progress and you see more pictures.

From this second photo  you can see a thin metal sheet with a ‘stopper’ which is laid atop the mesh before placing the top section in place.  I can almost hear your questions: what on earth is this for?

So, once fully in place and ready to go the contraption looks like this:

We were up and running!  Pulp and additional water was poured in, with the aluminium stopping it draining through, and it was agitated to evenly spread the pulp and ensure there were no lumps.

Holding tightly to the wooden sides the aluminium was whipped out, allowing the water to drain and the paper sheet to form.  Obviously this system uses quite a bit of water but if you’re making white paper the water stays clean and can be reused over and over, once collected through the table draining hole.

It was time to turn out our paper and get it into the press.  I found this part quite hard and kept getting bubbles in the sheets.  However, after some perseverance, and several lots of pulp being scrapped back into the bucket for recycling (!!) I managed to get six pieces looking quite good.

Robert, of course, made it all look very easy:

Into the press for a while, and a break for lunch, then the sheets were rolled onto drying boards and put out in the sun to dry under protective screens.

A great day, and my thanks go to Robert (and Michelle who also helped out whilst making her own paper – and brought morning tea) for both his help and the use of his innovative paper-making invention.

Six pristine white sheets of my own hand-made paper to play with.  Happy with that.

About primrosepaperarts

Currently the Web Master for Primrose Paper Arts is Claire Brach
This entry was posted in Activities: PPA, Member Activities, Paper, Techniques and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to In the studio: Experimenting with larger paper

  1. Nola says:

    Neat! Now you know what you need, too. Isn’t he a generous person to work with you like that? Can’t wait to see your paper and the wonderful things you’ll do with it.


    • Claire B says:

      It was fun, Nola, but very physical. The sheets are good but not 100% flat as I had to remove them from the drying boards before they were fully dry, to get them home. I think I’ll re-dampen them and put them in my book press and then try to roll them on the windows to dry again. It’s worth a go at least. It’s a menace taking them off the boards when not fully dry.


  2. barbaraschey says:

    Some years ago, Primrose had a workshop making very large sheets of paper. Colleen Drew was one of the participants and made large sheets out of which she constructed a kimono. That year, she and I were the only Sydney people accepted into the Power House Lace for Fashion Exhibition.

    Maybe you should talk to colleen.

    Luv b


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