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!

 

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