Here is my final report from my Eastern Papermaking class with Timothy Barrett at the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book. While the format of making high-school like science reports for expiramental papermaking techniques seemed a little absurd at first- it’s worth has been proven in the end. I have had later students use both this report, and my one from Western Papermaking to research and start their own projects. I’m publishing it on my blog now in case anyone on the interwebs has hours a free time and wants to make some 22×30 inch sheets of Kozo paper!
Here it is – edited a bit for the web:
GOAL: For my final project in Eastern Papermaking my goal was to make large, 22×30 inch sheets of Japanese paper out of Kozo fiber.
PROCEDURES: To undertake this goal I had to cook 700 grams of Kozo fiber. After four hours of cooking and turning the fiber I turned off the heat and let it sit and slowly cool for twenty-four hours. After the fiber had cooled I washed and drained the fiber three times.
I then picked and beat the cooked fiber. To beat the fiber the proper amount I approximately doubled the times provided to us in the Tim Barrett’s class handout. For 600+ grams of fiber- Squeeze out excess water, beat for 30 minutes “dry” add 1 cup of water, beat 20 minutes, add another cup of water, beat 20 minutes, add enough water to make the mixture sloppy and beat a final ten minutes.
Set up for making large sheets of 22×30 inch Nagashizuki paper is pretty extensive and utilizes a large majority of space in the UICB wet room and most of the regular Japanese papermaking supplies along with the larger, specialty equipment. I had assistance in hooking bungees to the ceiling for the 22×30 inch su and setting up the large black vat. I also had to set up large boards and felts to couch my formed paper on, a large bath to soak the large su, the regular maze, maze supports and regular vat for mixing my fiber.
My fiber was divided into six piles, the first larger then the remaining five. I put my largest group of Kozo fiber in the regular vat with maze and the smallest amount of water possible (you need enough to effectively mix fiber but no excess). I mixed the fiber and water with the maze approximately 150 times. I then drained the smaller vat of its fiber and dumped it into the larger vat. The larger vat already had around four inches of water in it at this time. We then added around approximately six liters of formation aid to the mixture. The amount of formation aid added depends on a combination of how fresh it is and desired sheet formation characteristics.
To sheet form with the larger su I had to learn to balance the weight of the water and fiber I was rocking back and forth between my own arms and the bungees. This was made more challenging because the rocking motion was constrained by the size of the vat. I practiced sheet forming with this set up for an evening before my actual attempt to make fiber. I made around 15 sheets during the practice round and then tossed them back into the vat after I had gained some confidence in the motions required for formation. During actual sheet formation every time that the fiber began to get low I remixed a new portion of the Kozo in the smaller vat with the maze and then transferred it to the larger vat.
I also had to regularly add formation aid to the large vat. The amount of formation aid I added depended on both my own skill at sheet forming and strength. When I started making paper I used more formation aid so my sheets were thin and consistent. However, because I was still learning how to properly rock and toss the fiber I often accidently let the fiber slide off the su. As I got better at making the sheets I added more formation aid to the mixture so that the fiber lay down in a more consistent manner. However, once my arms began to tire I could not hold and manipulate the su for as long as needed to get the proper thickness of sheets. I then stopped adding as much formation aid to the mixture so it would take less dips into the fiber and time for me to form a sheet. While this lead to slightly “cloudier” sheets I felt it was a necessity due to my personal physical limitations during sheet forming.
After I finished using the majority of my fiber I put my stack of paper between boards and felts and then placed a slowly filling bucket on top of it, overnight. In the morning, I flipped the stack, removed the felts and placed the pile of paper into the screw press. The stack of paper was then slowly compressed by manually tightening the press throughout the course of a morning. As the stack of paper was both taller and had more surface area then the stacks we completed for the class assignment the press could be tightened a significant amount.
After the pile had been compressed I separated and brushed the sheets up onto the steel dryer and wooded boards for drying. When the pile got too dry I spritzed the edges with a spray bottle.
RESULTS & DISCUSSION: Overall, I consider this project as extremely successful. I made 19 sheets of Kozo paper, approximately 11 of which have decent formations when held up to the light. I plan to use a majority of then for trace monotypes in the near future. The remaining 9 had good formation but I either wrinkled them when brushing onto the dryer, they popped off the wooden boards too soon and 3-4 delaminated during separation.
This project involved a lot of physical labor over a short intensive period of time. Anyone attempting to take on something similar should be aware of the physical requirements.
A small issue I had during sheet formation involved the ratio of water, formation aid and fiber in the large vat. Because the fiber needed to be mixed in the regular vat and transferred over the larger, I often found myself with too much water in the large vat. I would then have to drain the large vat into a basket, collect the fiber and remix it into my next batch of fiber in the regular vat. This was a very time consuming (and tiring) process that also meant I had re-balance my ratio of formation aid in the large vat as well. I think this issue could be fixed at the beginning by only adding 2 or so inches of water to the large vat. However, as the process of sheet forming continues the ratio is bound to get off.
I also had some difficulty with the weight of the su and fiber during sheet forming. As stated above, I needed to change the consistency of formation aid in the vat, as I got more tired. The only way to solve this issue is to keep making paper and build up the needed strength over time.
The last, small problem I had occurred during the drying process. The paper seemed to be a little bit on the dry side when brushing it up onto the steel dryer. A few of the corners of my paper popped off. This issue was slightly rectified by spritzing, but not entirely. I think the stack was possibly left to sit after pressing a little too long. Due to class schedule constraints I could not brush the paper up immediately after pressing. Next time I would make sure I had the proper time set aside to complete the brushing immediately.
Also, some of the traditional drying boards worked better then others. The paper brushed onto the larger boards (with poster remnants and runners on the other sides) popped off within an hour of being brushed on and is therefore not flat. The flat, smooth boards pulled out of the stack in the wet room worked significantly better.
CONCLUSION: Overall I am very happy with the paper produced in this project. While this is something I hope to continue in the future I definitely need to build up some more strength before I can sheet form more consistently. I think that I will try to experiment with other fibers on the regular sized su for more experience before I attempt to make large Nagashizuki sheets again.
RECCOMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER WORK: Experiment with different fibers and combinations of different fibers, experiment with different amounts of formation aid while sheet forming, experiments with dying Kozo fiber in the vat and after its been dried.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Handouts from Tim Barrett’s Eastern Papermaking class.
Some shots of my MA show reception last night in the Porch Gallery in Studio Arts. My volunteer photographer was being sneaky so she caught some funny people candids in the process.
I’ll post my official portfolio shots to my website later this month!