Hand papermaking allows an artist to take ownership of their materials. Choosing a fiber for paper pulp, making handmade paper, creating the final form—papermaking is a mutable art medium that allows for a multitude of options. When used in interdisciplinary manner, the process can be a way to add context, content, and meaning to an art piece.
Patrick Blenkarn is a Canadian artist based in Vancouver who recently created Soliloquy in English, a performance piece about English as a second language. It uses a rich combination of materials: words spoken aloud, a book containing varied experiences, and paper handmade from a secondhand dictionary.
Josh Monroe, Staccato Prints: Green/Blue Woodblock and handmade paper, 3.5″ by 3.5″, 2015
It’s a wild, wide world of potential for hand papermaking, especially when paired with other art-making mediums. Paper pulp itself has a huge variety of capabilities, including a remarkable memory suited for casting.
Let’s take a quick look at work by Josh Monroe, an artist who combines printmaking (relief woodcuts) and papermaking.
Handmade paper grants a particular kind of creative freedom for the artist—by creating your own sheets of paper, you’re able to go beyond the surface of paper as a substrate and create unique works made completely of handmade papers. These unique sheets might serve as the basis for other works on paper, or become art works all on their own.
Once you’ve made a deckle box and mastered the basic technique, you’re ready to embark on a project that incorporates your new equipment. You’re in luck, we have artistic ideas on how to use that trusty deckle box. With a few types of pulp and some inclusion materials, you’re well on your way to creating a new series of work!
If you missed the first two installments of our deckle box series, make sure to check them out (Part 1 & Part 2).
Hand papermaking’s tactile, experimental nature lends itself to applications in a variety of settings. The possibilities are seemingly infinite with potential for sculpture, wet media, book arts, and drawing (just to name a few).
At Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, art therapy students are sharing papermaking with the community through their outreach programs. Click through for the full story!
Pull out your papermaking vat and prep your fiber—it’s time to make some handmade paper sheets using your brand new deckle box! If you’re just tuning in, check out our tutorial on how to make your own deckle box.
The deckle box can be used to make test sheets, adjust sheet weight, or create unique sheets of handmade paper. While these things can also be achieved with a conventional western mould and deckle, the deckle box allows for a certain level of flexibility, since you can modify a small amount of fiber without contaminating an entire vat. Sometimes you’re one sheet away from completing a project and need the final sheet to be just so—a deckle box is a great way to control all of your variables without committing to a total vat set-up.
Hand papermaking conventionally relies on three elements: vat, fiber, screen (click over to the basic handmade paper tutorial if you’re not familiar with the process).
A deckle box combines the vat and screen elements into a single piece of equipment, and holds enough water and pulp for a single sheet—no vat required! This alternative temporarily builds up the walls of your mould and deckle.