What is paper clay? Paper clay is “any clay with processed cellulose fibre added” (1). Paper clay can be purchased with fiber already added, or the fiber can be beaten and added to already processed slips. There are many benefits of using paper clay over regular processed clays. A few of those benefits may include overall structural strength, less changes of warping, as well as the ability for it to be pushed super thin, aiding in creating translucent porcelain. The best part, paper fiber can be added to any type of clay, earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. But is most effective when added to porcelain due to its ability to reduce warping at such a high scale, and is used most for repair and attaching parts.
To make paper clay, a cellulose fiber is required. Most paper fibers will work just fine. Recycled paper such as newspaper and regular printer paper can be used, even purchasing a sheet of cotton linter or already processed fiber works just as well. One advantage of using purchased cotton linter is the lack of printer ink or dye that may be added to recycled papers, they also do not rot the clay as fast. Since fiber is a natural material, rotting can/will occur. Using types of paper such as toilet paper will result in rotting of the clay in as little as a couple hours, this is due to the starch that is added to toilet paper, with promotes the growth of mold. Although, the mold can be killed with a small amount of bleach added to the mix. It has been recommend to use spay insulation due to its strength, and due to the way it is sold, it will help cut down on time that would be required to break down the fiber yourself. (2) Although, these cellulose fibers that are within spray insulation contain borax and boron, which is used to reduce the fire hazard from home insulation. Borax acts as a flux, which helps to reduce the melting point in most glaze chemicals, but when added to a clay body, reduced the maturity point of the fired clay (1). This often resells in slipping of the form. After the paper and slip mixture is created, it is added to plaster to help remove access water and dry out to the point of use. This method of creating paper clay can easily be applied to crating a casting slip. Since you would already be making a slip prior to adding any fiber. This fibrous slip can be poured directly into a plaster mold and cast to create a very strong and thin form. (2)
To my surprise, there are quite a few artist who work with paper clay. It does not come as a suprise to me to find that these artist also have worked with paper processes such as hand made paper and book arts. Carol Farrow is one of those artist who worked with both making paper and paper clay. Her work with paper very closely resembles her work with the paper clay.
Jerry Bennett has created a way of making paper clay that is very simple and has been made available to the public. This is his website: http://jerrybennett.net/category/blog/. Also, here are some more images of paper clay works by artist: Sara Ransford, Angela Mellor, Nathalie Domingo, and Jerry Bennett, as well as others.
Overall, I believe paper clay can be a very useful material. With paper clay making porcelain a stronger clay, with less of a chance or warping, I can see many applications of this and possibilities in the future. Thought my research I have discovered a love for paper clay and a desire to work with it myself. With my background is ceramics and my familiarity with paper making, this might be something I see myself doing in the future.
(1) Http://www.grahamhay.com.au/paperclay.html. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.grahamhay.com.au/paperclay.html#.W-ulDXpKjMI
(2) How to Make Paper Clay. (2018, August 02). Retrieved November 13, 2018, from https://ceramicartsnetwork.org/daily/ceramic-supplies/pottery-clay/make-paper-clay/
Tardio-Brise, L. (n.d.). PAPERCLAY. Retrieved November 13, 2018, from http://www.terrepapier.com/paperclay-en.php
Carol Farrow: http://www.carolfarrow.net
Sara Ransford: http://pyrogirlaspen.com
Angela Mellor: http://www.angelamellor.com
Nathalie Domingo: http://nathaliedomingo.com
Jerry Bennett: http://jerrybennett.net/
Chris Campbell: http://www.ccpottery.com
Thérèsa Lebrun: http://www.wcc-bf.org/membre/lebrun-thérèse
Jonathan R. Wright
In a low relief, or bas-relief (basso-relievo), the design projects only slightly from the ground and there is little or no undercutting of outlines. *
The project I wanted dot research was low relief sculpting. The first time I saw a sculpture from it was from some image’s heather showed up in class and I physically saw one of the here samples/test she did at a workshop. That was a about 2 years ago. The topic came back around this semester in her advance book art class. That’s when I knew I was interested in low relief sculpture after she gave us a in class demo.
So, I decided to try it out myself. I got a chance to interviewed Tom Balbo a Cleveland native papermaking, ceramics artist and he answered some of my questions to help me get a full understanding on how to sculpt in low relief. Here the conversation:
Interview with Tom Balbo:
Jonathan Wright: What are they best materials to use for low relief sculpting?
Tom Balbo: Cast Ceramics bisque wear, recycled materials, plastics materials, plaster made sculptures, build up sculptures with the laser cutter
TB: Avoid glass, raw metals, anything that can oxidizes, raw wood unless it’s really well sealed.
JW: What are the best fibers to use for low relief?
TB: Cotton with a light beating (1hour), flaxseed, Kozo if you want to go the sculpture route.
JW: What are some of the challenges when making low relief sculptures?
TB: Make sure it doesn’t have a lot of underbite, don’t over beat fibers it will shrink more. Dry the back of the couched paper. Watch as it slightly damping. weigh it down but not too much weight. Wait a couple of days after you taken off, because paper tend to move or expand if its slightly dampened. Vacuum table I normally empty tank after 1 or 2 casting. Basically, trail and era
JW: Who taught you have to make low relief sculptures?
TB: I taught myself with low relief, ceramics major casting in plasters mould, and experimenting. Light beating for sculpting compared to the beating for sheets.
I failed on my 1st attempt at the low relief sculptures, but with the help of Tom Balbo and Heather Green I can make a better sculpture.
image(s) courtsey of:
other images by
Interview with Tom Balbo 11/12/18
Tom Balbo website: http://www.balbogalleries.com/
By: Elizabeth Z Pineda
“My interest is interlinearity, this ‘in-between’, the portion of knowledge and the world that we ignore or omit, or consider negative space — the pause in a sentence, the gesture before the act, the twilight between two portions of the day.” Robbin Ami Silverberg
Robbin Amy Silverberg is an artist working in Papermaking, Book Arts, and Installation art. Silverberg is the founding director of Dobbin Mill and Dobbin Books, a hand-made papermaking studio and a collaborative studio working in artists books, respectively. Silverberg has been an instructor for papermaking/artist books at the Center for Book Arts, NYC since 1986, and is Associate Professor for “Art of the Book” at Pratt Art Institute, NYC since 2002.[i]She has published extensively and her work has been exhibited in numerous countries around the world. Dobbin Books publishes 5-10 editions of small artist books yearly. They are either collaborations with artists and/or writers from other countries, as well as from the US and/or solo works by Silverberg.
Conceptually her work focuses on thought and analysis of words and the function of inserted text in lines already written and or printed. This use of text is one of the most visually astonishing things in Silverberg’s work. There is a formality created by the constantly repeating words. An incessant voice telling the viewer a story. The narrative is captivating as it is elusive. The text can either be multiplied over and over, wrapped around objects, and or simply be a single word crafted out of hair and embedded in an object.
However, this is not the only absorbing part of her work. She places equal attention to the entire process of her craft, beginning with the paper she uses and thinks of its function not only as substrate but as an active part of the work.[ii]This is true whether it is her own book or any other work published at Dobbin Books. They are books which explore a wide scope of themes ranging from issues of identity, memory, loss, life, and death. They are also about women’s issues, their voices, and value. Historical themes dealing with war and the Holocaust, literature, and reflections on the self are also present in her work. These themes are approached in an almost obsessive way, with Silverberg deciding with strict detail on every part of the process, from its design, structure, the materials that will be used in the making of the handmade paper, to the final crafting of the book form.
A few titles of books which stood out to me are;Detritus, Home Sweet Home, Proverbial Threads, Testament Patriarch, Dusters, Safer-Code, andJust 30 Words. It was difficult to make selections but I’ve selected these works because I found each moving in a unique way. Detritusis a work about 9/11. The artist states that two weeks after 9/11 she entered “Ground Zero to check if the Ampersand Foundation’s apartment still existed. I walked amongst the abandoned buildings covered in thick layers of dust, with trees covered in paper detritus as if they had genetically altered leaves.I grabbed some of these papers and some handfuls of the powder; much later I made paper with pulp filled with these remains, along with ripped up maps of New York City.” Detritusis a series of five different books in which the artist is trying to understand life in her hometown after the horrific event. Home Sweet Home, Proverbial Threads, and Testament Patriarch are all books that deal with women, how they are viewed, valued, and their perceived roles in society. About Home Sweet Homeshe says that she "'designed' an architectural album of an imaginary middle-class suburban house, filling its plans and layout with the many proverbs I've found about woman in the home.”[iii]Dustersis part of a series of books that was born from the artist’s discovery in Kyoto, Japan of a duster made from a block-printed book. This inspired her to create works in which she is thinking of common objects and how to create text that speaks of the transformation of the object to a book form and the duality which it presents. She has created several works in the form of dusters, dust pans, brushes, hand mirrors, etc. since 1998.[iv]In Safer-Codethe artist cut into a copy of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codesillustrating her interest in the “interlinearity” of text, the pause and act of words, the empty space. Just 30 Words is a book with the following description:
Postcards have been found that were written by deported Hungarian Jews to their relatives from Auschwitz, dictated by SS officers. Rules for responding correspondence can be found on the front: “Answer only on a postcard, (maximum 30 words), in German via the Hungarian Jewish Association. 12 Sip Street, Budapest, VII.”[v]
Silverberg was originally trained as a sculptor in the late 1970’s[vi]and learned bookbinding in Vienna in the early 1980‘s which is when she started making artists books. The way each project is produced and executed vary from one to the other. However, the one thing constant to each work produced by Dobbin Books is the use of the paper made at Dobbin Mill, giving each a unique quality and definitive look to the creation of works by Dobbin Books.
[i]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 02 October, 2018. http://robbinamisilverberg.com/biocv/
[ii]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 02 October, 2018. http://robbinamisilverberg.com/dobbin-books-dobbin-mill/
[iii]World Catalogue. 12 November, 2018. Web. http://www.worldcat.org/title/home-sweet-home/oclc/122777513
[iv]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 12 November, 2018. Artist Statement.
[v]Silverberg, Robbin Amy. Web. 01 November, 2018. http://robbinamisilverberg.com/artwork/editions/just-30-words-interlineary/
[vi]Andrew, Jason. Walt Street Journal. 11 November, 2018. Web. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704644404575481781993126388
Papercrete is a medium most commonly utilized in the creation of Earthships. Papercrete, in its holistic form, is an alternative construction material constituted of paper pulp, aggregate (sand), and earthen clay.
Some folks add cement to this mixture for additional tinsel strength. As an artist concerned with the environmental repercussions of my studio-practice, I will promote this report to exclude the use of cement due to its contributions in greenhouse-gas buildup.
That being said, papercrete has incredible potential to create great work without causing planetary destruction! This oatmeal-like mixture can be cast in molds to make bricks or structures, applied to surfaces, and pulled as sheets. The mix gains its strength as it dries out in the sun.
Papercrete first appeared in US patents during the 1920’s. There is archival debate about the specific date, but its been nearly a century since the beginning of its uses in the US. At that point in history, paper was expensive to build with. Today it is seen as an opportunity for effective recycling and is reinforced with rebar in some instances for load-bearing.
Little research has been quantified to represent papercrete’s structural integrity in relation to building code. That, however, did not stop it’s resurgence in the Southwest during the 1980’s. As Ian Dille wrote for the Texas Observer in 2014, “ […] various individuals in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona independently rediscovered the process and began experimenting with papercrete.” Dille continues to summarize that, “[…] in a sense the papercreters were unified by location. they tended to live on the fringes of the grid or off it entirely. Most resided in jurisdictions with lax building codes, or no building codes at all, where they could build without restriction.”
The second generation of “papercreters” may have been geographically unified in their aversion to building codes, but were conceptually unified on a global scale with a vast historical lineage. Alex Wright, a team member of Watershed Materials, discusses parallel evidence of Ancient Egypt’s earthen construction tactics in his article Geopolymer Concrete, Egyptian Pryamids, and a New Way Forward for Sustainable Masonry. Data sediments to reveal that the massive pyramid blocks were cast in place. The durable substance was made of locally-sourced earthen materials and poured into wooden molds, where they would sit as they baked in the sun.
Wright states, “[…] the Egyptians appear to have pioneered a geoploymer concrete that lasted throughout the history of modern humanity made from abundant common earthen materials found nearly everywhere on the planet. Compare that to the concrete we make that lasts half a century and comes with a disastrous carbon footprint.” Wright extends this notion of refection as he continues to re-imagine the potential for the future of building.
By revisiting humankind’s universal heritage of composite-construction methods with naturally occurring materials, we begin to unfold the limitless potential for cleaner making. I believe that papercrete may be an ideal vehicle for environmentally-concerned investigations.
Papercrete is lightweight and strong. Which makes it easy to move, store, and ship from studio to gallery. Artists have utilized this material in conceptual conversation about the human relationships to the building upon earth. Oscar Tuazon describes this “outlaw architecture” as a “physical […] experience of balance,” in his artist bio for the Luhring Augustine gallery.
Tuazon utilizes papercrete with his “I Can’t See” series, in which the medium exists as it is contained within its wooden flask. The works feature inclusions of larger recycled paper scraps. Tuazon may be discussing the blinding clutter of consumption yet simultaneously re-invisions its potential condensing via its repurposing.
Highlighting the possible potential for the future of our artistic and environmental interrelation is critical for sustainable studio practice. In light of the earth’s suffered damages, it feels unkind to turn a blind eye in the anthropocene. So let us take notice, make changes, and adapt our modes of creation.
Let’s look to the world of paper-art and re-iamgine how it can stand to aid in that. Paper-making and book arts overflow into the realm of sculpture, but papercrete could break the levee. Dissolving boundaries between artistic disciplines and building bridges from practice to concept, papercrete holds weight in the potential for our future from our past.
by Jonathan R. Wright
From the thirteenth century on, Greek manuscripts were written increasingly on watermarked paper imported from Italy, and soon from other sources in Western Europe. Watermarks were developed by Italian papermakers. They may originally have served to identify papers produced by different workmen within a factory (who were paid by the piece).
Picture several workmen working at adjacent workstations in a factory, all producing paper of the same size and appearance. It is easy to imagine a workman suffering from backache, getting behind in his work, and being tempted to steal from another who had produced a larger pile of paper. However, the watermark originated, this new development in papermaking technology was quickly adapted to new functions by the paper factories, which began using them as "trademarks" and to distinguish different grades or batches of paper.
"Watermarks were made by bending pieces of wire into filigree designs (French: filigrane) and tying them onto the wire mesh which served as the bottom of the paper mold. As the paper pulp drained, this device would be imprinted in the paper along with the lines of the wire mesh.
Watermarks took many different shapes, such as natural things (Fig. 1) (e.g., birds, hands, flowers, mountains); tools and weapons (e.g., anvils, hammers, arrows, rifles); household implements and clothing (e.g., vases and pots, scissors, hats, gloves or gauntlets); mythological beings (e.g. dragons, mermaids, unicorns); religious symbols (e.g., angels, crosses, paschal lambs, chalices); and heraldic symbols (e.g., crests, monograms, crowns, trophies). As the use of watermarks became standardized, so did their location in the sheet of paper. The watermark was normally situated in the center of one half of the sheet, so that when the sheet was folded to form two folios, the watermark would appear approximately in the center of one of the folios. Sometimes this usage was varied; for example, papers were sometimes made with double watermarks so that when the sheet of paper was folded, each folio showed a watermark in the center."
This little info stuck with me while researching I learned different methods used the traditional way it done with wiring the screen and a more contemporary way is done with foam of all sorts, easy but the only down fall is foam can last so long before its starts to deteriorate. The system with the wiring to the screen has been the go to method if you want fine mark making.
"Beginning in the sixteenth century, in addition to these watermarks, many papers also were given smaller, secondary marks called countermarks.
Countermarks were usually small letters or numbers or simple shapes such as flowers or shields. (Fig. 2) Countermarks were situated in a corner of the sheet of paper, usually on the opposite half of the sheet from the watermark. In codices, they usually appear on one of the outer corners of the folio, if they have not been trimmed off during binding and rebinding the codex."
Researching Countermarks it was a way to further your identification/security in case the original watermark was unseen. I'm interested in doing this also with my further projects. if done right your countermark and watermark can make one solid watermark to make an interesting pattern/image.
By Zixiang Jin
A watermark is a pinpointing image that comes with variety of darkness or lightness when viewed by transmitted light. Government documents, including the field of currency and postage stamps are known to employ water mark in order to avoid forgery. Cylinder Mould and dandy roll processes are used in producing watermarks in paper. The new technique of laser’s watermarking has a wide range of benefits. They include secure data protection methods are easily incorporated, easy customization per document, high-contrast mark and time and money is saved on changing tools.
Various skills and techniques have been invented. Example include water fluid that water fluid that does not damage the paper even after wetting it. Examinations employs watermark. They are used in determining the quality of a sheet of paper, identifying sizes, dating, mill trademarks and locations. New technology breakthrough has made watermark a necessity. Watermark is incorporated in document security such as driver’s license, banknotes, passports and other state issued-photo IDs (Benderly, 2015).
Today, paper can be watermarked using three processes. One way is use of Fourdrinier which is made during paper manufacturing process. It is often referred to as a true watermark. Dandy roll applies varying degrees of pressure. The dandy roll contains the image to paper that is still wet. The paper is impressed in select areas of varying thickness making the watermark to appear when illuminated from the back. The thicker layers of paper block and absorb light (Benderly, 2015). This ensures the darker color. The thinner portions appear lighter in color because they let light to pass through them.
Artificial is another type of mark. It is created by printing an image using an opaque, transparent ink, white ink or using varnish. The process is quite unique because it can be seen from one side of the paper when viewed from an angle reflected with light. When illuminated from one side of document it is invisible.
Cylinder mould is also a common type of watermark. It includes depth with shaded, grey scale image. Shading is caused by areas of relief on the roll’s outer surface. Paper is rolled once it is dry to produce a security mark of varying thickness and density. This process appears more detailed and much clearer compared to using the dandy roll process. It is commonly used in motor vehicles titles and other documents where measures of anti-counterfeiting are taken.
The laser technology has made it possible to have made it possible for synthetic paper to be watermarked. The process used can either be wet or dry process. It is done by deforming the selected portions of the micro-porous structure in a pattern corresponding to the mark and changing its light transmission characteristics. The synthetic paper pores is distorted by radiant energy from the laser beam. Careful selection of laser parameters will help the paper’s top layer to remain the same. The technique under normal conditions provides low visibility. When illuminated it becomes highly visible.
David Benderly (2015) New watermarking techniques provides additional security benefits in Authenticating documentation. Photoscribe Technologies
Buxton B.H (1977) The buxton encyclopediaof watermarks. Tappan, New York.
Papermaking Research on Artist John Babcock
As an emerging papermaker, I find inspiration the most in papermakers who are utilizing paper in a unique way. When looking at artists work online I was in particularly drawn to John Babcock’s work. John Babcock is a California based artist who focuses mainly on paper as his medium. Babcock has shown in over thirty museums in Europe, the US, and Japan.
Babcock uses large scale and small scale works to evoke emotional responses and focuses mainly on color. I was so intrigued by his work I sent him some questions about his technical process and his conceptual process. I’ve included some images from his website but all of the in process shots were photos he sent me in the interview. Anything in quotes are direct responses that I have included from the interview.
The above image is a work that caught my eye. I was particularly drawn to the cut out negative space within the paper because of it’s repeated pattern and mostly because of the cast shadows behind it.
This is what John Babcock had to say about it when I inquired how it was made.;
“Kozo pulp, beaten by hand, two masters, blue and green. made thin by massaging pulp into a water bath see photo below.”
finished kozo sheets ready to be adhered to mylar.
Below: spirit wave image cut on vinyl cutter.
Many of Johns concepts are really interesting to me. He focuses on a wide variety of ideas throughout his work- but still manages to keep his entire body of work cohesive visually. Some concepts he touches on are expressing ideas of love, commemorations, animals, spirituality, and many more.
I was interested in his process of executing ideas. I wanted to know if he went into his studio with a specific concept in mind or if he let the highly technical process of papermaking guide his inspiration.
This was his response;
“I am a builder. I work with the pulp as a sculptor manipulating the fiber into place. Since I have many techniques of working over a span of 40 years, it is difficult to generalize “this is how I work”.
Color Rules. Color is my first decision. Size is next. Sometimes I will sketch out patterns. For commissioned work I might even make up a maquette with collaged papers. Sometimes my concept isn’t clear at all. If it isn’t, I might start making pulp, pigment the pulp and start mixing the colors. In that process of getting involved with the material, usually ideas start to emerge and the ides of form evolve. If I want to make a work based on feeling, I will visualize the feeling with colors in mind.”
I then asked how his process has developed throughout his career;
“The process has developed because I have a lot more tools and techniques available. We didn’t know much about structure of paper fiber when I started. In the nineteen seventies my cotton came from linters mixed in a washing machine or very lightly beaten in a hollander. The pulp when spread out on a large plastic surface invited manipulation. In the archive click on “statement” in Faults and Fissures http://www.babcockart.com/faults-fissures/
When abaca was introduced to paper artists in the very early eighties I discovered a translucent shiny fiber that transmitted light differently. I was fascinated that by working cotton and abaca side by side I could make the abaca match or contrast with the cotton thus developing hidden images and color fields that changed as the viewer changed position or as the light changed during the day. http://www.babcockart.com/collage/”
John works with a lot of free casting. One of his bodies of work I am inspired by is his Ladder series.
“ The ladder has a special significance for me. It is a path to higher ground or a higher plain. I have climbed ladders all my life both physically and metaphysically, as perhaps you have. In this series I have enjoyed exploring the chemistry of color and the color of aspiration.” – John Babcock
“I mix 15 gallons of a master color pulp. I will make from 2-4 master batches. from 30 - 60 gallons. I intermix these pulps to make a gradation in 10-20 buckets five gallon buckets partially full. I call this building the color and it will take a few days to get the blending correct to my eye. I will then repeat the process for abaca.
Free Cast: I concentrate the pulp like cottage cheese and place it on a waxed plastic surface and manipulate the pulp about a ¼” thick to the desired shape. I can make sharp edges if I want. I work blind. Face side is down. 1991 late ladder series photo below.”
“April 2000 Soquel Studio
The cotton fiber is in place, abaca pulp will be placed in and over the top of the cotton to hold it all together, working blind.
So “free cast pulp” is casting without a mold.”
Some more of John Babcock’s free casted paper; (my favorite series)
Perceptor 1984 71” x 56”
Perceptor is a spirit piece that for me is an overlord of the gallery space it lives in. It was one of the first explorations of a changing color and fiber gradation, which creates a shifting pattern from different views.
free-cast cotton and abaca fiber pigmented in the pulp
Messenger 1984 44”x 112”
Secret messages within. The tiles are made from from varying combinations of abaca and cotton pulp creating subtle patterns that are only seen in a certain light.
free-cast cotton and abaca fiber paper
Lastly, a sculptural piece that I find very interesting – which was inspired by Arizona;
Faulted Arch 1979 16”x 16”x 32”
This is one of a series of sculptural works dealing with topography and landscape. It is about what we don’t see usually, but get to see for instance, when visiting an Arizona canyon where erosion gives us a glimpse of times past. Collection : International Paper Company. Exhibited in “Paper/Art – A Survey of the Work of Fifteen Northern California Paper Artists” at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento CA. January, 1981
sheets of laminated earth pigmented cotton fiber paper
Within papermaking there is a lot of equipment – you got your vats, your molds, deckles, buckets, hoses, presses, dryer boxes, blotters, etc, etc, etc. But above all the beater is king. Without someway to break down the fiber you got nothing.
After all most of the items are pretty common place. Take some water, a blender two old picture frames and some old window screen and you can pretty much make paper. Problem is that it will be kind of lump and bumpy, not hold up real well, be hard to write or draw on, and generally not perform for anything than being able to view it as a piece of paper that you made. Begging question – if it doesn’t function the way we ask paper to function than is it really even paper? Regards of its paperness we must look at the reason why.
The reason paper turn out so poorly when made using a is because the paper that comes from a blender is chopped while the paper that comes from a beater is macerated. The action of macerating elongates the fibers allowing them to flow together creating a strong woven hydrogen bond while also being able to compress down into a flat even sheet, and the way to do this is with a beater.
Since around 1673CE (Library of Congress) western papermaking has been reliant on the design of one tool for its papermaking – The Hollander Beater. This oval trough with a cogged wheel and a bed plates does a fantastic job on macerating fibers of all kinds. The issue with it is accessibility. The market for these machines is pretty limited and they are built to last so new Hollander Beaters are made to order and run you somewhere in the ballpark of $10,000. That right there is a pretty heafty sum of money to come up with on the front of starting a new papermaking studio, and to my mind is the main prevention of papermaking expanding within the arts.
I became interested because it would seem to me that in the age of the Do-it-Yourself movement, wiki-how and youtube fix it videos, we could come up with a solution to this problem. I got to wondering if papermaking has been around since 105 CE (Asunción 9) but the Hollander Beater didn’t come on the scene until around 1673CE how was the paper being beaten for for other 1500 year? Maybe this could be a clue into how to make a beater that is more affordable and still produces the same product. Here you will find a survey of different paper beating machines and methods.
Hand Beating – In the beginning there was hand beating. The Chinese made paper from rags, finishing nets, mulberry tree bark, nettles, and hemp that were softened with lime and fermented before crushing and grinding them by hand to a pulp using a hand mortar. (Asunción 14)
Though a very early and possibly considered rough, primitive method some of the most beautiful papers are still made today using a similar process. For many fibers like Kozo or Gampii a cooking in caustic solution followed by a hand beating with mallets or wooden paddles is used. From afar someone seeing the rhythmic beating of wet pulp with a piece of wood may even seem slightly barbaric. However, after the suspending in water and pulling a sheet it creates some of the must beautiful and delicate paper often with slight wispy hairs suspended within.
Japanese Stamper – Not surprisingly following hand paper beating came a tool that would beat paper in a similar way but without the laborious work. Though in Japanese papermaking the beating is really secondary to the preparation of the fiber in the cooking and washing stages. “Fiber selection, cooking and washing are the most crucial preparatory steps in Japanese papermaking” “Minor variations in cooking and washing can produce very different papers even from the same fiber” (Barrett 35) While there are many variations based on area, mill and the papermaker the general process is “boiling the fiber in a strong alkali solution to dissolve most of the lignin, pectin, waxes, and gums, leaving primarily cellulose fiber and hemicelluloses.” (Barrett 36) After that the fiber is put into clean water and meticulously inspected – picking out and removing small bits of left over bark or imperfections until the fiber is a consistent tone. Following the cleaning the fiber is ready to be beaten. “The fiber is twisted into thread and woven into tight patches of cloth” “millions of long straight fibers, all laying closely together” “The fibers stand loosely together in the bark…ready to come apart” (Barrett 44) after this the fiber is beaten for only around 30 minutes. The beater itself was invented in “1920’s to substitute for hand beating” (Barrett 46) The stamper beater consists of a metal shaft with a hardwood striker mounted to the bottom, that can travel freely vertically as well as rotates. It is bolted into a sturdy wooden frame and powered by an electric motor that when running raises and lowers the striking part of the machine into a small basin at the bottom where the fiber is kept. For final processing a Naginata beater is often used (Barrett 46)
Naginata Beater – The Naginata beater came on the scene after the invention of the stamping beater. In the use of the stamper the purpose is not to chop, cut or macerate the fiber. The goal is rather to separate the fibers from each other. After stamping the fiber is put into the Naginata to “tease” the fibers apart. The Naginata looks very much like a western Hollander beater, an ovular trough with a mechanical apparatus that the fiber and water passes through. Unlike the the Hollander the roll and the bedplate have been removed. In there place is a series of curved dull knife like thanes attached to a rotating horizontal shaft and powered by an electric motor. These curved “blades” are what gives the Naginata its name, originally coming from the the name for the curved halberd used in battle. While the Naginata is running for about 20 minutes or so depending on the fiber the dull blades chop at the water and fiber freeing the strands of fiber from each other and separated them from each other – suspended in the water and ready for sheet forming (Barrett)
Western Stamper – Before the invention of the Hollander beater in the western world the use of the western style paper stamper was the main tool of the papermaking industry. The stamper normally consisted of 3 or more hammer like heads that would land their blow inside of a rounded bottom stone trough. Often metal was used at the bottom of the trough to increase longevity. The head of the hammer that came in contact with the bottom of the trough would be outfitted with a gridding of nails or sometimes a custom cast plate or head – similar in appearance to the bed plate of a Hollander beater. The arm of the hammer attached to a pivot point that would allow the hammer to raise and fall. The force causing the raising and falling of the hammer was powered by a rotating shaft outfitted with pegs interspersed so that the hammers would raise and fall in separate timing from each other. This shaft would often be powered by water and a mill running alongside of the building the beater was housed in. Prior to beating rags, where were the primary source of paper, was cooked or most often retted (rotted). The fiber was then poured into the trough and processed –typically taking around 3-5 days. “The behavior of the pulp under the hammers perfectly fits the various descriptions made in the 18th century. When a hammer is raised, it creates a depression which draws in the pulp expelled by the drop of the neighboring hammer.” (Moulin à papier)
601 Production LTD, Traditional Paper Making Process, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lltkdyE1OG0, May 25, 2012
Asunción, Josep. The Complete Book of Papermaking. Lark Books, 2003
Avi Michael, Chancery Papermaking, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-PmfdV_cZU, May 28, 2003
Barrett, T., “European Papermaking Techniques 1300–1800.” Paper through Time: Nondestructive Analysis of 14th- through 19th-Century Papers. The University of Iowa. Last modified July 14, 2014. http://paper.lib.uiowa.edu /european.php.
Barrett, Timothy. Japanese Papermaking. John Weatherhill Inc., 1983
Library of Congress. Papermaking Art and Craft. Vinmar Lithography Company, 1968
Moulin à papier. http://www.moulinduverger.com/papier-main/article-42.php. 2006
sararingler, Kozo Beating, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgXZLkwJqZ0, July 16, 2009
stampochpress, Handmade papermaking and handcasting type, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MTb7Nt9jNY, November 7, 2007
Vally Nomidou creates life-size figurative sculptures out of paper that may be haunting at first glance, and yet become gorgeous throughout the contemplation of her process and content. Nomidou is an artist from Athens, Greece and a Graduate of the Athens School of Fine Arts, and of the Saint Martin’s School of Art of London. The body of work I have researched centers on Nomidou’s exhibition “Let it Bleed” which occurred in 2010 at the Fizz Gallery in Athens, Greece as a part of Art Athina, a yearly international art fair hosted in Athens.
In this exhibition Nomidou presented seven sculptures of female figures including adult women and young girls. The sculptures offer an immediate sense of recognition given by their extremely life-like presence, attention to detail, and naturalistic gestures. To start her process Nomidou plaster casts body parts from her sitters and goes through an extensive method of documentation taking several photographs of her models. After this Nomidou sorts through her collection of substrates including printed materials, newspapers, paper towels, handmade paper, and cardboard while consciously deciding on a color palatte attributed to the natural materials. She starts with an internal framework made of cardboard as an armature and works from the inside out. After this, the artists attaches the plaster cast pieces and then builds layers of the paper material using wood glue, acrylic medium, and often sewing and stitching which then reflect a surface reminiscent of skin. Further some of the surface is rubbed, sanded, and polished to evoke sensuality and play with the viewer’s visual perception activating their sense of touch. Many of the sculptures make great use of negative space as they are exposed in areas where the figure is incomplete possibly creating a sense of emptiness, but also giving the figures a light quality. This openness is a direct invitation for the viewer to contemplate the relationship between exterior and interior surfaces.
The message I believe Nomidou suggests is that her material is used to venerate that which is vulnerable, available, and temporary. Because she chooses not to use anything else she fully exposes the viewer to her process and materials leaving almost nothing to the imagination. Although there is a grand sense of naturalistic illusion the transparent content of the piece is best reflected by the translucent layers of paper built up on the surface. It’s a strange mixture that prompts the viewer to struggle between the thought of witnessing something pleasant or possibly vile. Her methods may also suggest feelings of loss and possibly suffering as Nomidou is very fond of the haphazard assembly of the works in reference to the stitching and sewing which is indicative of wounds, and scars, and effects on the body. After all one of the main themes in her work is fragility as the artist states: “…I work out my figures spontaneously with the intention to show the mental state of ‘’between’. Between different trends, orientations, routes, decisions. The situation to be between and to do connections, fragile connections with a variety of possibilities, with uncertainty. Without a final decision. With tyranny. The difficulty, the sensitivity, the contrary emotions that coexist, the agony, the empathy, the cowardice, the fear. The game and the pleasure to express all these situations sometimes gently and sometimes hard...All these are a fragile world written on the female body which I build… People I know, anonymous people, simple people, children, (my son, a refugee girl, a lonely girl with a famous family) an abnormal dancer…All of them have something vulnerable. They are personalities under formation, defenseless against their fate.”
Turkish Marbling is a process for creating decorative papers that have a patterns that resemble the organic patterns found in marble stones. The process originated in the middle east and spread to Europe around 1600. It involves dropping pigment suspended in water into a shallow tray of water mixed with sizing. Then the artist can drag combs and brushes through the water in order to move the pigment and change the pattern. The pigments can be layered to create very colorful patterns. Once the design is finished, the artist lays the paper across the water and then picks it up. The paper picks up the pigment in the pattern that it laid in on the surface of the water. Marbling can also be done on paper, wood or other porous surfaces. Sizing is added to the water so that the pigment will float on the surface of the water. The traditional sizing is made from carrageenan seaweed, but methyl cellulose can also be used. The pigments can be suspended in water based inks, gouache, oil paint, or acrylic paint. But in order to use acrylic paints, the paper must be coated in a mordant such as aluminum sulfate to act as a fixative. There are many named patterns within the marbling technique, such as the French Curl pattern, or the shell pattern. But many patterns are simply classified by how they are made: either combed or thrown. The library at the University of Washington has an extensive collection of marbled papers, a gallery of which can be viewer online here.
Suminigashi, the Japanese form of paper marbling, was practiced as early as the 10th century. There is also documentation of paper marbling during the Ming Dynasty in China around the 14th century. Marbling became an art form in Turkey in the 15th century, but it is difficult to determine whether the Turkish form originated from those East Asian countries. However, people began importing marbled paper from Turkey to Europe in the 16th century. In addition, they tried to replicate the process. But, they used different pigments, papers and chemicals depending on what was available to them locally, and this resulted in different patterns. Therefore, scholars can determine a book’s country of origin based on the pigments, papers and patterns used on its marbled end-sheets. Europeans were the first to develop the practice of marbling the fore edge of books.
Mostly contemporary books are commercially produced, therefore hand marbled end sheets are not as common as they once were. But today, marbled paper is still used in artists books and limited edition finely bound books. Furthermore, the practice has recently gained widespread appeal in mainstream crafting communities and has become a popular motif in interior design. One of my favorite contemporary examples of artists working with marbling is Pernille Snedker Hansen, who is based in Copenhagen. She marbles planks of wood and installs them as flooring. I believe that her contemporary sense and use of color is really modernizing and re-contextualizing the tradition.
Impacts of Paper
Paper is a material that is present in almost every aspect of life. It is how humans often communicate and share information in the form of books or paperwork, how many food products are packaged, is a substrate for various forms of art, and so many more uses. With millions of tons of paper being produced each year, how is paper impacting the environment? The process utilizes gallons upon gallons of water as well as enormous amounts of plant matter. How has papermaking remained sustainable, or was it ever sustainable in the first place?
Industrial production of paper obviously wastes much more than an individual. Creating larger quantities of paper requires more energy, more water, and more pulp with less concern about reuse of water or concern of waste. The quality of the final product and the money made is the priority. Within the processes of industrial papermaking, I will cover water usage, habitat disruption, a little bit about plant usage, different paper products, and recycling. How do all these different elements of paper affect the environment, and how can we change the negative impact?
Paper was first created in Ancient Egypt around 3700-3200 BC, and ever since it has been an essential part of human life. Papermaking techniques we know of today were developed in China in 105 AD. The paper mill was introduced in 1282, which innovated the production of paper. However, it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that the mass production of paper was made possible and costs were significantly reduced. Over the centuries all over the world, the process and materials used to make paper evolved. This increased the demand for paper-based products and led to the paper and pulp industry we experience today. In the last two centuries, advances in papermaking technologies, increase in global commerce, and affordability of paper products have led to alarming increases in paper consumption, which, unbeknownst to most individuals, has caused significant environmental damage. The global demand for paper product is significant, with more than 350 million tons produced annually in 2010. Generating over $200 billion annually, the paper products industry is big business, and it is only getting bigger. (The Environmental Sustainability of Paper)
What are the environmental impacts of the papermaking process? The first impact is the source. Wood is the most commonly used source for industrial papermaking. Deforestation occurs to obtain paper pulp, and is a critical environmental concern. One of the leading contributing factors to endangered wildlife species is deforestation. Environmental impacts of deforestation include: energy consumption for logging, the destruction of natural ecosystems, reduced water quality, soil erosion, diminished habitats for plants and animals, and the elimination of old-growth forests. Reforestation is becoming more common, but finding a sustainable solution should be the main focus. (The Environmental Sustainability of Paper)
In addition to deforestation, another impact of industrial papermaking is pollution. The process of making paper itself is toxic. Chemicals are found in most papermaking processes. Pesticides used in the forest and a variety of chemicals are used in the process to create pulp. Some of the commonly used chemicals are chlorine, mercury, absorbable organic halogens, nitrates, ammonia, phosphorus, and caustic soda, each of which damages the environment differently.
The primary element used when making paper is water. According to the EPA, the paper industry is the largest user of industrial process water per ton of end product. Paper producers are becoming more competitive for water supplies as water shortages are becoming more common. In addition, the paper industry is the fourth largest contributor to toxins on surface water.
How can we make papermaking more sustainable? The impacts of paper become interconnected. If we use less paper products, then the need for virgin paper would decline. Less demand for paper would equal less paper made. Sustainable forestry practices are required to ensure that virgin paper is available at a reasonable cost, and so that habitats are not destroyed. The forest industry is establishing sustainable forestry initiatives, which emphasize natural resources and wildlife conservation, prompt reforestation, and a deeper awareness of environmental responsibility and stewardship. (The Challenges of Sustainable Papermaking) Utilizing non-wood fibers, such as bamboo, reeds, or cereal straw, would also decrease deforestation. In addition to sustainable forestry practices, recovering paper as a raw material is important as well. Papermaking is one of the leading recycling industries. Fiber can be reused up to seven times before the fibers become too weak. Utilizing these two strategies will lead to a more sustainable papermaking future.
As the world becomes more and more digital, somehow we have increased our paper consumption. Hopefully as environmentally aware companies and approaches grow, so will our approach to the paper making process. As the world goes digital, the need for more paper should decrease, as well as the environmental impacts.
Blanco, Angeles, Carlos Negro, Concepcion Monte, Elena Fuente, and Julio Tiger. "The Challenges of Sustainable Papermaking." Environmental Science and Technology (2004): 414A-20A.
Smith, Richard. "The Environmental Sustainability of Paper." Graduate Studies Journal of Organizational Dynamics 1.1 (2011): n. pag.
By Isabel Cervantes
I’m sure we all think of Egypt and papyrus when we think about the origins of paper, however, paper as it exists today traces back to China. Credit for the invention of paper was given to T’sai Lun, an official tied to the Imperial court during the Han Dynasty.
After beginning in China, the process spread across Asia, the Middle East, and then Europe. In each of those places the process was generally the same. It was the Arabian technique that the Italians improved upon by the use of water for power, a stamping mill, wire mesh molds and various other things.
At first, the process used old rags and plant based materials to produce paper. However, advances in the printing process created a larger demand for paper and thus a shortage of those raw materials. Then, with the invention of a wood grinding machine, came the use of wood based paper and the further mechanization of the whole process. In the traditional process, these materials were heated in a solution, beaten down into a pulp and then bleached to take color away or had color added. A mold with a wire screen, called a “deckle,” was dipped into the solution and pulled out horizontally in order to create a sheet of pulp on the screen. This sheet was then placed on felt or cloth and stacked with others to be pressed. After pressing, the sheets were hung to dry. The dry sheets were then adjusted to have preferred properties such as improved strength or reduced water absorbency.
As mentioned before, because of the growing demand for paper and the time it took to complete the traditional process, a faster more mechanized way was created. However, even in this modern day process you can see remaining traditional aspects. In this process quality is often measured by what percentage of the paper is not made of wood pulp which is the cheap alternative used in mass production,
Below are videos of the traditional process as it is carried out in some places in South Korea and also a video example of how paper is mass produced for purposes other than art.
As you can see, whether its the traditional way or the modern day way, the paper making process is not something that can be done in only one way. It is constantly being improved upon and has many levels of difficulty. You can even make your own paper at home from various recycled materials! In the end, the time consuming traditional ways of paper making across the world are worthy of appreciation.