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The Paper Plant ~ Studio Information
We produce hand-laid paper from cotton fibers and recycled scrap paper. We grind these materials in a blender or a huge "blender" made from a trashcan and an electric boat propeller. Then we stir the fibers into the large vats of water and scoop up a layer of pulp onto the various screens. The thin layer resulting is turned onto wool or synthetic felts and pressed in one of the presses. Usually the paper is dried on boards. We add dried flower and other materials right into the vat.
Fiber and Pulp Materials
Almost any plant fiber can make paper - the higher the cellulose the better. (Cotton is 94% cellulose; flax for linen is 97%.) We buy "linters" as a by-product from the textile industry. The scrap papers are collected from framers, printers, and artists. We have experimented with kudzu, thistle, yucca, banana tree leaf, tobacco, and straw. Rope, string, rotten linens, grocery bags, and many other plants and scraps have provided us useful additives. We use potato starch, methyl cellulose, and acrylic paints to smooth and color the paper.
Paper was invented in China about 2000 years ago, by a scribe to the Emperor of China. The scribe had been making sacred script for the Emperor of China by writing on strips of silk (which is much older than paper). He took scraps of silk and old fining net and pounded then to a pulp! When he spread that pulp on a bamboo screen and it dried in a thin flat layer, he had made the first paper! People around the world have found different ways to make paper. They always use plant fibers that are spread out in water. That's what makes paper!
The papermaking machine was invented around 1800, and the basic way it works hasn't changed much. In the twentieth century, the paper industry began making very large machines and using new methods of making pulp out of trees. Most paper made today is not for writing or printing - it is for wrapping, packaging, or covering walls and insulation. Librarians like old cotton paper better than tree paper because it last a lot longer. Many artists and fine bookmakers use handmade paper like that made by The Paper Plant.
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