Friday, 30 March 2018

Making Letters

Below are three letters created from paper pulp.  They needed very careful easing from the mesh, worth the care though with their attractive deckle edges.


Embedding and Laminating

A collection of embedded samples.  First of all snippings of thread arranged to look like oriental writing.  Some of the threads have come off leaving shallow indentations.  In sample 4:4:28 similar designs have been sandwiched between sheets of paper: the lower is slightly thicker, the upper made with tissue paper allowing the threads to show through.



The sample below shows letters made from thick tracing paper.  Here I was trying to replicate the glue sample 4: 2:14 made with Brusho over glue.  The white on white, however, is less successful and the piece poorly pressed.


Samples 4:4:30 and 4:4:31 show letters formed from magazine shard-like cuttings.



Ideas Running Ahead of Skills

Looking at Pinterest, as I'm sure we all do, I've been very taken with the idea of writing with paper pulp.  I'd assumed that I would be able to make my paper pulp, coloured or otherwise, fairly fine and by limiting the amount of water in the mix would put it in a turkey baster or plastic bottle with a nozzle which would enable me to pipe with it as I might on a birthday cake. I envisaged trying out some of the exercises tried in Chapter 2. As I described in my previous post the water separated from the pulp and trying to squeeze it through a nozzle resulted in the pulp blocking the baster and bottle nozzle.

I haven't been able to resolve this problem by Goggling it; no imaged of what I wanted to try were accompanied by any explanation or instructions.  However, I emailed Jean Hart who had taken me through my first steps in paper making.  Although she has not tried to do this herself she suggested using cotton linters instead of recycled paper and adding PVA to this.  I plan on trying her ideas out but would welcome any other advice.

My other lovely idea was to try making paper lace.  I stretch the fine knitted grid over a frame and dipped it in the pulp in the same way I would make a sheet of paper.  It wasn't possible to release the paper pulp from the grid, but I allowed it to dry on the net and tried easing it off.  No easy matter, and Sample 4:4:26 shows the fragments I managed to make.  Again a question: is this possible?  If so advice please about how to achieve a more successful result.


Adding Colour to Paper Pulp

When I revived the two jars of paper pulp I decided to put the thicker paper into a paper-making bath and to colour the tissue pulp in a small bowl.  I used the black Brusho I'd used previously but at double strength in the hope of getting a deeper shade of blue and yes this was successful to a degree: the pulp is now a mid-denim blue, but lacks clarity.  Maybe it isn't possible to create a clear colour in this way, but only by applying diluted Brusho to a dried and finished piece of paper.

The experiments below show how I got on applying the coloured pulp with a spoon.  The results are rather blobby and I noticed that the water and paper pulp hadn't combined very well, also that I hadn't washed the dye out well enough resulting in blue shadows between the blue areas, so that there was no clear contast of blue and white.

Sample 4:4:22 is more interesting: I was able to add width to the first paper sheet by overlapping colour and white sections giving the appearance of disintegration as the blue paper pulp ran out.


The two samples above show writing in blue paper pulp on freshly made paper.  Sample 4:4:24 shows more controlled writing, both achieved by spooning the paper pulp.

Friday, 23 March 2018


 I learnt about workflow on my photography course. It's a way of  becoming more competent at using a technique so that the end result is predictable in form and quality, and is just what I did with dyeing threads and fabric.  Now this may sound the opposite of being creative -- not so. In fact it wasn't until I watched a Youtube film on paper-making that the penny dropped, and I could see the care and precision needed to ensure I didn't keep making the same errors and experiencing the same disappointments.

Normally I like some verbal explanation, but this film silently and repetitively demonstrated the processes involved in making a sheet of paper.  First place the frame on the deckle, stir the paper pulp in the water tank, scoop them, shake side to side, back and forth, drain, carefully remove the frame then allow the deckle, with its nascent sheet attache, to drain.  Meanwhile the newspaper is readied, the cloths made wet before the deckle is tipped over.  Sponge the back of the deckle, remove it and the paper is released onto the wet cloth.  A second wet cloth is placed on top, followed by more newspaper.  The process is then repeated.  I can do it in my head and this together with the press has led to more consistency, a consistency that allows me to experiment with embedding, embossing and many other ideas.  There is something almost meditative about the process -- workflow.


Thursday, 22 March 2018

Pandora's Box

In which it's not the evils and miseries of the world that are released, but so many wonderful curiosities are discovered that it's difficult to keep my mind on the main aim: doing everything I've been asked to do in Chapter 4.  This mindset is off course the result of a number of things -- a long lay-off and loss of momentum, paper making being newish ground (though the day spent paper making with Jean Hart Mould was invaluable), a predilection to enjoy one aspect of any new craft and loop round again and again exploring only that. In my defense I've been reading Helen Terry's blog in which she suggests doing "at least ten variations of an idea, working quickly and encouraging the ideas to flow".

As ever my tendency to leap forward to my resolved sample is present, but it is exciting with each chapter and each technique to catch glimpses of what might I might use for that sample.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this?

I also need to add a reminder that at the back of my mind is the watery world I explored in Module 2:  the patterning on fish and their movement through the water, the North Sea and in addition the world of herring girls.  So many thoughts: too many thoughts.

                                                           *                    *                    *

Looking back at my last blog I mention more embedding, making paper on a range of meshes and adding shapes to paper.  And yes I will come to them, but not yet: embossing is currently my thing. So what I've done is revive my tissue paper pulp which had been carefully stored in the fridge, washed it and made a new paper-making tank.


In February I cut pieces of cord-like string, I arranged them to create zigzags down the wet pulp- paper to create some rhythms reminiscent of the movements in water.  Though the imprint was clear and actually quite pleasing, the thickness of the string was such that the rest of the sheet of paper became distorted and other random ripples also appeared.  This too was the case with thinner cord more randomly sprinkled.  Two explanations occured to me: firstly the paper was too thin, secondly the pressing process was inadequate. Based on this second thought I set out to make a press with ply-board and four D-clamps.  Images 4:1 and 4:2 illustrate the difference when a paper press is used.


My first experiment with the press was to try embossing paper with a range of nets, both knitted in two different thicknesses of string and collected, for example fruit nets in plastic and man-made fibre.


Continuing the watery theme I looked out some samples from Module 2. Below are five machine embroidered samples: they all have raised surfaces created by using a range of thick and thin threads.



The embossing is really successful producing beautiful subtle and results on the delicate tissue paper however,  I wonder whether it will be possible to reuse the embroidered surfaces as the press will have flattened them considerably.

In another experiment I used stitched "fishy" patterns.  These designs are simple and stitched using upholstery thread.



In a further experiment I used a knitted string sample using the pattern on the left in Sample 4:4:14, a silk knitted tie and Module 2 ribbon made from gathered net.  These, however, were insufficiently well-defined or varied to make an interesting imprint, as are the two sizes of bubble pack in 4:4:17, though the smaller scale imprint works better.



More successful still were the letters which I'd stitched on canvas, again with upholstery string.


Reviewing the samples above a number of things occur to me: firstly that the surface being used to emboss the wet paper pulp needs to have sufficient interest that lights and shades are created by the pressing process; secondly, that screwing down the press too tightly is likely to compress the embossing surface too much thus removing the opportunity to create light and shade.  It does of course depend on how the paper will be used and much more experimentation is needed to be sure about how tightly the D-clamps should be screwed down.