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.