Lately I have been exploring handmade recycled paper construction – that is, deconstructing old papers ( we seem to have so much these days) by shredding them and then converting them to pulp in my dedicated blender (purpose bought for $35 from Coles – I see they are now on special for $25!! so one wonders how long it will last!) This all began when my husband, in clearing out some space in his shed, found and presented me with some old screens we found that had been used to make papers with the offspring when they were in primary school – not very taut, and not very big, and no deckle! haha. I decided to try it out again from that hazy long ago memory of doing this once before… clearly not very successfully because a) the adult children have no memory of it and b) I didn’t make any more…. I made a few papers with one of these screens, and well, the edges were super thin, and the middles were thick, fairly horrible…. I thought at this stage it would be worth finding out how to actually do this properly…. so I invested in a book. This was a revelation! I enlisted the help of my husband to make me a mould and deckle, and then a plywood press. I have two sizes of mould and deckle: one 5″ x 7″ (made from a couple of old stretched 8″ x 10″ canvases) and the other is A4 size.
Once I have made the papers, they spend some time in the press to remove the water, and are then laid out to dry….. follow that with sizing, allow to dry again, press again to flatten; a quick iron will make the papers nice and crisp, and the outcome should be some lovely textured and mottled papers ready for watercolour or gouache. Some of the sheets are rather more cardboard-like, and some so thin they are super fragile in the drying process (that creates interesting wrinkles and gaps….). It’s all about getting the solution the correct balance in the vat, and that I am afraid is impossible for me to do in any kind of precise scientific way…. but maybe I will get better at judging what it feels like to be the correct weight for what I want…. Such a process! There may be quicker ways, but then I am a novice.
Following on from the paper making, what to do with the papers? The first batch of papers made on the original deckle-less mould were not to be wasted (invested a bit of time already in this process) and I wanted to experiment with painting on them. So this little series of kingfishers was born. What if I add some stitch? and some batting, and sandwich them, and then how to put them together? Found some inspiration on Pinterest, and here is the result…. I think this is not yet finished….
Watch this space, I plan to make more! Maybe some monoprinting, more stitch, and other elements! So looking forward to exploring this ….. and guess what, I am awaiting the arrival of another book which will tell me how to convert my weeds to paper… oh and garden plants too…. Not that I have many actual plants… just weeds……….
‘Til next time, happy creating!