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).
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.
Hand papermaking offers a colorful lexicon full of terms like kiss, hog, and slurry (obviously a favorite of ours). One term that often gets an eyebrow raise is couching (pronounced ‘coo-ching’), the term papermakers use to describe transferring a newly formed sheet of paper from the mould to the felts.
Click through to learn the history of this term and how to seal objects between wet sheets of paper!
One reason people choose to make paper by hand is the ability to customize your paper for each project. You may have already considered shifting variables like color, weight, texture, and size, but you can also change the shape of your paper.
Think outside of the traditional rectangular deckle with your own, handmade shaped deckle. Using just some foam core and a bit of tape, you’ll be able to explore new possibilities in your work with your own custom deckle.
Not only can you creature uniquely shaped sheets of paper with your existing mould and a new custom deckle, but you can even make multiple sheets of paper with a single vat pull! Click through to learn more.
Our first natural dye tutorial focused on extracting cochineal dye purchased from a supplier. Whether you’re new to naturally dyeing handmade paper or looking to expand your color range, potential dyestuff might live closer than you think—you can extract dyes from items found in your kitchen.
Keep reading to learn about more ways to experiment with natural dyes and handmade paper!
Left to right: cochineal beetles on top of cochineal dyed premium abaca, japanese kozo, and overbeaten premium abaca handmade papers with screen printed cochineal.
Expand handmade paper’s creative possibilities by experimenting with natural dyes. The process requires little more than some dedicated wares that could be picked up at the thrift store and dyestuff (the matter that you will extract the dye from). This tutorial focuses on cochineal (koch-i-NEEL) dye which is extracted from an insect—the dactylopius coccus beetle. Cochineal extract can dye paper a lovely red color. This little insect has been used for centuries to color natural fabrics all over the world.
Keep reading to see how to apply this beautiful beetle juice to your paper!