>I'll be teaching a papercraft craft during the month of January for a small
>group of students grades 5-12. I want to include papermaking and
>papercasting, but I've never even tried this myself.
>I'm stocking up on library books and I ordered a book from amazon.com the
>other day, but I'd like to consult the true experts--you guys.
>Is there some special stuff you have to buy to get paper to release when
>you're casting? I read about spraying or spreading something inside of the
I've never had any problem getting paper casts off their molds. However I
have had to use a very think coat of spray old (wiped off) on a smooth
board when I wanted the paper super smooth.
>When making paper, do you have to add some sort of chemical to the mush?
>I've seen references to that in some of the books I've seen, but I'd like to
>keep all this as safe and simple as possible--with lots of time for
No chemicals! That's for the pulp and paper industry. And that's the beauty
of papermaking. It's the reformation of the macerated fibers using a screen
to reassemble those fibres that forms the sheet. If you let the pulp sit
too long, mold starts to grow. (For people without allergies to mold, it
can add an interesting dimension to your paper, however this is not good
for use with kids). For leftover pulp (or stuff you want to store and use
again), strain through one of your screens and either put the pulp in a bag
in the freezer or squeeze water out of it and dry it.
>Is it best to go about all of this with homemade materials (dishpans, screen
>frames, etc.) or is a kit worth the investment?
Depends. My compromise was to buy good plastic papermaking screen and make
my own frames. The usual classroom stand by for screen is the stuff you buy
for keeping bugs out of your windows in the summer. It makes acceptable
paper, but not really nice paper like the papermaking screen gives you.
>What do I really need to know to make this course a success? (And I'm sure
>I'll have even more questions once I'm up to my elbows in the stuff!)
There are a few small things that help with the mess. I like to break up my
groups into water people, cutters and blenders. I train the blender people
and only they can use this tool. Not too much fiber (motors burn out fast)
and enough water (too much will make a big mess). Water people fetch water
to blender and slurry bath. Cutters cut up plant materials, old papers,
cotton linters, etc. When couching the sheets of paper, keep a roll of
masking tape handly and a felt marker. Each person then writes their name
on a small piece of tape and sticks it under their paper. Saves
identification problems later. For my large classes I keep notes on the
history of papermaking on the wall using the overhead projector. Students
are required to copy these notes in their notebook. This keeps any idle
ones busy after they've made their paper. You have a small group though so
this may be moot. In your case you might couch paper on the floor and cover
with board and have students stand on top of board to squeeze out water and
make paper flatter. The crummiest old cotton "car" blankets have been the
best couching materials I've found. Better than felted blankets.
Last word of advice--don't let them view the paper as "precious." Have
them do something with it. I do illumninated letters of make quill pens and
write a poem on it, or make little books out of it. If you are using ink on
the paper make sure you add some gelatin to the slurry bath. You can paint
in on later too. Have fun! Wish I was papermaking now, but we don't have
much green stuff around this time of year in eastern Canada.
>Thanks for your help--
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