Archives for category: Papermaking

Alright folks, school is back in session! I am so excited for this new year!

As per usual once the school year has started, I have already gotten behind on the blog. But I am going to try really hard this year not let too much time go by in between posts! The good news is that I will be blogging weekly over at school on the Graduate Ambassador blog. This means that once a week I’ll be posting about the goings on of the Book and Paper Arts department. As soon as I have the official web address for that I’ll let y’all know!

I always love the beginning of a school year and I had this realization yesterday that it was my second to last first day of school ever. How strange time is!

Happy fall everyone! I hope you’ve had a great week so far!

P.S. This image is from Shorpy. It’s Chicago’s Lincoln Park circa 1900.


Last year we moved to Chicago, literally, the DAY AFTER Printers’ Ball. So, I was mildly disappointed we had missed it BUT it meant that I had a whole year to get pumped for the next one. All of that anticipation was worth it.

So, what exactly is Printers’ Ball???

“The Printers’ Ball is an annual celebration of print culture, featuring thousands of magazines, books, and broadsides free of charge; letterpress, offset, and papermaking demonstrations; live music and dancing; and much more (quoted from the Printers’ Ball Facebook page).” It’s marvelous. I volunteered along with a group of my fellow graduate students to do demonstrations in our three studios, book/paper/print. This meant that I spent the majority of the evening up to my elbows in pulp as groups came in and out of the room. Over 3,000 people attended and over 2,000 visited the Center for Book and Paper’s floor. I answered a lot of questions and made A LOT of paper.

Before the night started though, all of us volunteers had a chance to check out all of the free books, zines, magazines, postcards, and chapbooks that were out on display. Needless to say, I stocked up! I grabbed a couple things from Ugly Duckling Press, a few awesome design magazines, some old issues of The Journal of Artists Books, and some random things that just seemed interesting. It was great and I’ll have reading materials from now until October!

On my break I also got a chance to walk around. It was so fun to watch everyone talking and hanging around with their awesome Printers’ Ball totes full of free literature and people walking by with their faces painted like zombies (oh yeah – the theme this year was IT’S ALIVE all creepy and Halloweeny in July). It was a great atmosphere of friendly conversations and sincere interest. There was also live music on the ground floor and endless events happening all night. I loved it.

However, next year I think I’ll be enjoying it from the ‘just a visitor’ side instead of the ‘crazy busy demonstrator’ side.

So, I gathered most of the images above from random places across the internet – obviously, I didn’t have a lot of time to walk around and take photos. I hope you enjoy them. Should you find yourself in Chicago next fall Printers’ Ball is a MUST.

Bon weekend you guys! Check back on Monday for more catch up blog posts!

P.S. I didn’t even tell you about Printers’ Ball Eve – a private (ooh-la-la) event hosted by The Poetry Foundation the night before the shindig proper. Drew and I went, again along with some of my fellow grad students + their significant others, to the new super swanky Poetry Foundation building. We ate food, drank beer, mingled, and watched a very lovely shadow puppet show of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.” Twas very fun indeed!

Photo credits: the two photos of the crowds are from One Book One Chicago’s Flickr page. The image of the wood type is from bluebike on Flickr. The image of the PB sign is from gozamos on Flickr. And yeah the other two are mine.

Yesterday in my Intermediate Papermaking class we learned how to make paper in the Asian tradition. It was a different process than the one I’m used to and it was so so fun and interesting to learn a new way of doing things in the studio. I’m going to go ahead and describe the process so, get ready for a long post!

We started out by cooking down Kozo fibers. We placed the fibers in a huge pot and added water and soda ash (a base that helps break down all the excess stuff not needed for making paper) turned on the heat and cooked the fibers for about two hours. Once the fibers were easily separated both vertically and horizontally they were rinsed and were ready to start being beaten. This part rules. After squeezing out as much water as possible we got to beat those fibers to a pulp – haha- literally! Papermaking is such a physically involved craft and it felt so great to just bang the crud out of that Kozo knowing it was transforming the material into just what we needed to form our sheets. The actual sheet-forming process is different than the Western style. In Western papermaking you dip a mould and deckle into a vat filled with water and pulp and in one scoop form a sheet. In Asian papermaking one slowly builds up thin layers of pulp on the screen (not sure if that’s the best word) and only after dipping your mould into the vat four or five times do you end up with a ready to go sheet. Once that’s done, the sheet (which is still attached to the screen) is carefully laid down onto a wet pellon (a sheet made of synthetic fiber). The back of the screen is solidly pressed on and brushed with water to encourage a clean transfer of paper from screen to pellon. After, the screen is carefully peeled back leaving a glorious piece of paper. It’s just plain super. All that’s left then is to press the paper and then carefully brush it onto a flat surface. Yesterday most of us chose to use the wall in our studio. The slow drying time increased the translucency of the paper and we ended up with a super delicate beautiful product of our labor.

Okay, I hope that wasn’t too much! It’s just so fascinating to learn all this stuff and it’s hard to resist sharing in great detail! Have a good time checking out all the images. My classmates are awesome action models!