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Manual papermaking Round TWO!

Posted by Fallon Foster on

After the first experiment I revised my process a bit and figured I'd try it out with a somewhat less processed variety of paper.  I used a material we all have a veritably endless supply of: junkmail. This time around I'd picked up a one gallon bucket just so I'd have a receptacle for water other than the vat, and it makes measuring out 1 gallon of water (which is a controlled variable for these experiments) pretty simple.

I shredded half the flyer by tearing it into 1 cm strips and then tearing those (usually 4-5 at a time) into 1-2 cm chunks.  This resulted in, essentially, a vat full of confetti.  Once I added the water I wadded it all into a big ball again and used my fingers to break it all down.  There were still a few larger chunks left shifting around but on the whole it worked relatively well.  That was about all I had time for though and after dumping everything into the bucket it spent 5 days sitting in a corner (covered, fortunately).  The next time I had a chance to work on it it looked like this:

That cloudy, grey mass in the bottom of the bucket is all the saturated paper fibers all settled in the solution.  The water is noticeably darker at this point, presumably from the ink that's been loosened from the fibers and is floating freely.

I managed to use every last bit of pulp this time and wound up with 4 sheets of paper.  The last sheet was made by pouring the pulp from the vat, through the mold, and into the bucket (pretty messy but easy to prepare for).  This last sheet wound up being the thickest of the four and probably the closest to what I'd eventually like to achieve.  The third sheet I put on an embossed sheet of felt to see if it'd form to design.  Surprisingly enough, it did, though not well enough that it'll come out in the photos.

I let them airdry this time around, at least for a few hours.  After that two of them had dried just about completely (though they were a little warped) and I put those two under a couple books.  Of the other two I left one out in the open and one under a book.

The following morning I found that the one left on it's own had dried completely but warped in the process.  The two that were dry before going into traction were a bit crinkly.  The one that was still a bit wet when it went in traction was mostly dry and perfectly flat.  So assuming it stays flat going forward I think I have a technique for that.

Relative to that first patch, these were a definite improvement but there's still a ways to go before I've got a good, proper sheet of paper.  I think these were probably too heavy on the ink and that's caused some discoloration in the end result.  Not a lot, but just a little.  There's also all those unbroken chunks of scrap paper.  Not as many as the first batch, but still a fair few.  I'm pondering some sort of "mechanical mastication", something like a hand-cranked egg beater or interlocking gears.  It's occurred to me that the blender is indeed exactly that, but I'd still like to avoid blades and electrons if I can.