Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Papermaking Spree

These next few months are all about making paper by hand; since the end of January I've been pulling sheets like a madwoman, and it's only just beginning. I've got books to print, and before that can happen, I've got to have the paper on which I will be printing.
Of course, it would be easier to buy the paper for my books (imagine, no endless hours of cutting linen and cotton thrift store finds into 1" squares, no more soggy galoshes and dripping felts) but making paper by hand allows me that much more control over the outcome of my book. I begin with raw(ish) materials: linen sundresses amassed from multiple trips to local thrift stores, plants gathered from local sources, and sometimes even hand-pigmented wool roving. What happens in the papermill, the cooking, pulping, and recombining materials until they form sheets, is an almost alchemical process. The finished sheets tell the story of how I prepared my pulp, how I practiced my shake, and how I monitored the drying process. It's a story that a machine-made sheet of bugra or biblio cannot tell. However perfect those sheets are, their story is climate-controlled, digitally monitored, and lacks the pulpy hands and sloshing that come with doing it yourself.

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