The last batch. (Probably.)

last batch

Cotton/linen blend, mostly white but with just enough blue to make it interesting.  Fifty-five sheets, which is pretty good for two pounds of rag since I was compensating for the lack of a press and making them a little thicker than I might’ve otherwise. (And they came out soft, so they should be amazing for printing on but not necessarily for folding.)

Not a bad run, all things considered.

Some things I have learned recently.

And a few I have re-learned.


The hydraulic jack broke (I think this is just a thing that happens), so I was reduced to improvisational pressing. It broke, of course, on the day I made 98 sheets in two posts, not one of the days I only had one pound of dry rag’s worth of pulp.

It turned out all right, though. Although it turns out that if your paper is still incredibly wet, shockingly, it has to hang out in the drying system for almost twice as long.

The bonus: I have re-learned why my paper was so soft the last summer I was in Alabama, which has been plaguing me since I started making paper here. I’ve just been pressing all of it far too hard — even when I thought I wasn’t.

I’ve done some fun things with pulp mixing, too — the rag I really thought would be brown is a fascinatingly complex grey.

I’ve made a truly absurd amount of paper in the last couple of weeks, which is a pretty good accomplishment, in my ever-humble opinion.

Of course, I’ve got nine pounds of factory rag that I want to make into paper before the end of the year … we’ll see. I’m not holding my breath on that one. (I also came up with a way to make hockey paper. Which I am so doing, at least if I can get the time in the studio. Because if it works it will be glorious.)

More later, as always.

Last night.

I realized that I’d backed myself into a scheduling corner. (I hadn’t made any allowance for drying time. Rookie mistake, I know!) So I went back to the studio at 10:00 pm and made three pounds of paper.

Some things I learned: very thin sheets can actually dry in eight hours. Our felts are starting to shed in irksome ways. The third post of the night is very, very wet (I knew this going into it, but there was water everywhere) and it is much more challenging to couch sheets without sliding near the top of that one. (Of course, it was also 3:30 in the morning, so … maybe that had something to do with it.)

green sheets

I’m pretty sure none of the factory roaches made it into the vat.

Process / quilt paper

Start with quilting scraps:
quilt scraps

In the beater:

quilt scraps in the beater

Worry that the pulp is going to turn out horrible:

quilt pulp

Think maybe it will be ok after all:

quilt pulp in bucket

Admire the color / texture of the wet sheet:

wet quilt sheet

Wonder what to do with this unexpectedly excellent paper:

finished quilt sheet

(Julia collected quilting scraps from her mother and a couple of other people. I made them into pulp, and she pulled sheets. We’re doing another batch and then we really do need to come up with something to do with the paper because how cool is that?)

And then there’s this.

You know how sometimes you have to make a neutral paper, so you can print a book? (I’m hoping I can get half of the sheets I need for my next book out of this. I don’t know what I’m going to use for the other half yet. If I can steal Julia’s leftover pulp, I know what I’m using for the covers, though…)

greyish linen/cotton

The picture is deceptively boring. It’s not nearly that plain in reality.

It will be very interesting indeed to see how it comes out texturally — half of the pulp is the same rag I used for the watermarked sheets the other day, with a much shorter beat.

Also, the first half of the rag included both pink and brown. What color did it turn? You got it: pure white. (That’s actually why I blended the two; it was too bright of a white, so I toned it down with the stuff I knew would be at least a little grey.)

This is a new one for me.

Well, sort of. I haven’t made paper like this since Alabama, and actually not even then: this is also watermarked, which I never tried down there.

The pulp:

The Pulp

(I took some excellent advice and did an almost five hour beat. It doesn’t have any knots in it, which is novel.)

The vat:

The Vat

(Almost charged. I think I dumped in another pitcher of pulp before I got started.)

The mould:

The mould

(As you can see, one of the nice ones. Man, these moulds are awesome after the first two sheets. Something weird always happens with the first two. It’s unclear why.)

The watermark:


(Man, watermarks are fantastic.)

The failure:

The failure

(This is one of the first couple of sheets, and I have no idea why the watermark held onto the pulp, but that was the only time it happened. I bet it was something to do with my lousy shake, though.)

And the sheets in the dry box:

Thin friggin' sheet

(Surprisingly, I didn’t have any critical failures going from the post to the drying system. These might be the thinnest sheets I’ve made … uh, possibly ever.)

All in all, a pretty good day’s work, even if it is only like twelve sheets. (They drain slowly, ok?) More of the same tomorrow, and then I have another pound of the same rag to prep.

Holy crap, it’s even better than I hoped.

Would you look at how amazing this is? (The mould, if you’re curious, is an A4 from Khadi, which I have a serious love/hate relationship with.)

Wasp watermark

I actually have three watermarks to mess with, but the smaller wasp probably needs to be glued in order to function properly (guess I need to get to work making moulds) and the Marella needs a better head. But now I definitely want to make a series of Burgess Shale paper…