My Rigged Mould & Deckle

There has been some initial experimentation happening in the studio this week, especially now that my largest papermaking contraption is ready to go!  I now have three sizes to choose from to make paper:

  1. 8.5″x11″
  2. 16″x20″
  3. 21″x32″

Continuing my quest to make paper on a grad school budget, the two larger sizes are actually 38 mesh silk screens!  I don’t know if anyone out there is also using silk screens to make paper, but it definitely works and is sweet on the wallet.  However, trying silk screens as the mould did come with a series of trial-and-error to make it work efficiently.

The mould is what holds the paper pulp after it is lifted from the water vat (or in my case, kiddie pool).  I needed to rig up something to fit into the frame as a deckle.  Hand-made paper has a delicate, fuzzy edge to it called a deckle, due to the pulp leaking partially past its border.  Then there is the contraption “deckle” that makes the paper’s deckle.  I constructed my two larger deckles with styrofoam, white foam core board, clear tape, and duct tape.  Fancy.

Little did I know that my deckles’ makeup would float in water.  BAD, BAD!  So, with the help of Todd Cloe in the campus workshop, I resorted to an even “prettier” addition to my contraption to make it work.

Wood scraps were cut and placed over the styrofoam edges to keep its bottom underneath the water, so the water would filter through the mesh.  It’s pretty heavy, but hey, it works!

Torn up paper scraps are blended with water and green pigment to make the pulp….

and it’s added into the mould & deckle, swished around to distribute the fibers, and lifted/suspended to drain the water back into the water vat.  At this point I have to remove the wood to keep it from weighing down my plastic suspenders.


I remove the deckle, and you see a perfect wet sheet.  Then I go through a series of sponging, and using a rolling pin over a blotter sheet to couche as much moisture away from the pulp as possible.  The process up to this point can take up to 25 minutes per sheet, but I’m hoping I will speed up with practice.  Finally it goes in-between layers of felt and cardboard with concrete blocks to keep it flat, and a box fan pointed to it to dry overnight!


I’m so excited about the new possibilities of using larger paper for my work!  More experiments to come….




1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Brittany Spencer | inspiration – the portfolio – in progress

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