Making paper

Making paper

When I graduated in January one of my gifts was a gift card to make my own paper at Papiermakerij De Hoop. Since I have been writing a lot more this year, my family thought it would be nice to not just create the words, but the actual material my words could be printed upon. So about a month ago I went to the ‘Papiermakerij’ to help create paper.


Papiermakerij De Hoop

The Papiermakerij is a studio for creating paper, but not just paper from common materials like hennep and cotton. This workshop is all about creating paper from all natural fibers, from nettles to onions and from asparagus to actual bullshit.

The day consisted of helping the owner, Marieke, with creating paper for one of her assignments. In this case, we would be making paper from cotton, red onion and a little bit of bullshit (which creates little brown flecks all over the page). More information is in her blogpost on her own website here *link*.

Making my own paper

To create the paper you start with the pulp, shown below, which is then diluted in a big tub of water. After every sheet you create you have to add a bit of pulp to keep the same consistency in all the sheets of paper.

I spend most of the afternoon creating the sheets. Adding a bit of the white pulp, the pink onion pulp and a little bit of the bullshit (love saying that). Then creating the sheets of paper, which in Dutch is called ‘scheppen’. After you remove the edges of the ‘schep’, you can see the piece of paper below.

You then press the paper onto a piece of cloth which lies on a wet sponge. All the water makes sure the sheet is sort of ‘sucked’ onto the cloth, but the cloth won’t stick to the paper.

When you have a good stack of sheets you can press the water out. Below is an old school press we used for some sample sheets. The force pushes most of the water out, but it will still need to dry a little longer. 

Here is what the sheet of paper looks like in between the pieces of cloth.

And the final result:

You can see the red bits, which is the red onion. The small brown flecks are less obvious in this image, but they really give the paper some depth.

At the end of the day, I got to take some sheets home, the rest would be used for name cards in a conference about ecology.

I really liked making my own paper, it was a very calming exercise and it was cool to immediately see a difference if you had too much pulp or too little. Near the end I felt confident enough to start experimenting with the onion and bullshit, trying to create new patterns in the paper and such. If you are looking for a cool activity for a day, I would recommend looking into this. At the end of the day you have learned the basics of a new skill and you have a new understanding of paper.



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