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Your first step is making the pulp. Take old paper or dryer lint, and pulp that. Computer printout paper is very good pulp source, and is generally free from your office-recycling bin. You can change the characteristics of your paper by adding paper towels, newspaper, dryer lint, and onionskins. I use a blender or old food processor. (Blenders work better than food processors, because they batter, while food processors slice.) Fill it about 1/3 full of paper and lint, add water, whirl for a few minutes, pull the cork and collect the pulp. You can make pulp ahead of time, strain it, and store it in the refrigerator.
Now you are ready to make paper. All you need is a vat, a screen and deckle, something to couch it on, and a press... The good news is that you can do this with common kitchen stuff. You need a vat to contain it in, for our purpose we'll use a dishpan. Now, for the screen and deckle. For the screen you can stretch nylon hose over an embroidery frame. You can go to your local window store and ask them to make you a screen the size you want... Or you can make one out of wood and stretch some sort of screen on it. Aluminum screen from the hardware store works well. Okay, now you have your screen. You need a deckle. This is a wooden frame that fits over the screen, and is the same size as the frame that the screen is stretched on. Oil or wax both the wood of the screen and deckle well.
The screen and deckle are used this way: you have your pulp floating the vat. You stir it with your hands, and then press the deckle and screen together. You do it so the screen frame is on the bottom, the screen is in the middle, and the deckle is above. Now, lower that into the vat, swish it all around, and then raise the thing through the pulp to get a nice even layer. Note how the deckle "traps" some pulp. Now, as the water drains through, give it a few shakes to help tangle the fibers. When the water has drained off so that the pulp is beginning to form a sheet of paper, you can set the thing on a rack over the vat, at an angle, to complete draining.
Now it's time to take the paper off. You need a sheet of felt on a curved surface.
You remove the deckle (the wood), making the new sheet of super flimsy paper on top. You flip the screen over, and roll it across the felt. If it all goes well, the paper comes off on the felt. I find pressing the back of the screen helps. This was the hardest part to learn, and we often had to help the kids remove off their sheets from the screen.
Now it's time to squish out the water. Take your sheet of felt with the new sheet of paper on top and place another sheet of felt over it. This can be layered for up to 6 or so sheets. Now using a heavy rolling pin roll the pile of felt sheets so the felt will absorb the water. Otherwise, you use some sort of press. BIG huge presses with screws are traditional, but other types work too. I used my flower press as I rarely do more than 5 or 6 sheets at a time. Then you carefully pull the felt sheet apart, separating the still damp paper, and hang it up to dry.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|