I became intrigued by paper-making ever since I started drawing. One common question I get asked is why make paper when there’s already an abundance of it? There are many reasons. I make paper because I enjoy the mindful process, I acknowledged the benefits of recycling something that would otherwise be discarded, and I love the handcrafted feel of handmade paper.
I began collecting and then transforming grocery paper bags into usable sheets of paper. Now, family and friends have become my suppliers and save any paper bags from their shopping trips to pass on for recycling. And so, we launched a paper-making cycle!
The first step involved in turning simple paper bags into beautiful sheets of paper is preparing the fibers, tearing and shredding them into smaller pieces to ensure they blend smoothly into paper pulp, or a paper slurry.
Next, comes the blending process, a mesmerizing dance between the fibers and water. The blender swirls the fibers into a smooth, frothy suspension. I pour the pulp into a vat with water and gently scoop up a layer of fibers with a mold and deckle, tilting and shaking the mold to ensure an even distribution. I then lift the mold, revealing a delicate translucent sheet of paper.
Afterwards, the couching process follows where I transform the fibers into a tangible sheet of paper, a very delicate transfer of the wet sheet from the mold to the felt pad.
The final stage is drying, a patient waiting game as the paper surrenders its moisture to the air. The next day, I find the dry and crisp sheets, slightly textured.
Each fiber, once discarded, had played a vital role in creating this unique and meaningful object that can be used for artistic purposes. The paper was more than just a material; it was a symbol of creativity, sustainability, and the transformative power of turning one object into another.
I opened my eyes to the potential of transformation that lies within everyday materials.
Here are some of the ways I used the handmade paper!