Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Drying Flat Sheets

I had a question from a woman in a paper making group I belong to about how I got my sheets so nice and flat. The answer is easy: a restrained dryer. They are really simple to put together, and I thought I'd share pictures of the one I use at Paper Circle.
This was made with some plywood, some archival corrugated cardboard, some cotton linter blotters, and most importantly, a fan.

First you make a 3-sided box. Ours measures about 22 x 28 inside - but you can make them any size. On the back side, there should be a large hole in the middle. You stack your cardboard and blotters in this box and run the fan from behind.

When running the dryer, you want to be sure to do a couple of things. I couch my sheets on to Pellon (an interfacing) and use this to transfer my sheets from post to press to dryer. In the dryer, I sandwich these between cotton linter blotters to help absorb some of the moisture. These blotters then have the cardboard on either side. The corrugations should run perpendicular to the fan.(so that some air is being pushed through) My dryer "sandwich" goes cardboard, blotter, Pellon, blotter, cardboard. Pictured here are some sheets in the dryer:

The other thing to remember when you make a box like this is to leave a couple of inches between the cardboard and the back of the box where the fan is. This allows for air to circulate and aid in the drying. (pictured right)
A board is then placed on top with some light weights. (we use water filled jugs) The board should go all the way to the back of the box and be above the hole in the center of the back board. (we have to put in some "filler" layers of foam insulation to achieve this) This can be seen in the first picture I included.

I have also seen this same set up without the box. It is just the stacked cardboard with a weight on top and a fan behind. I'm not sure of the difference between the two. I'm guessing since the flowing air is not trapped in that space, it may take a little longer for the sheets to dry. In our dryer, it usually takes about 24 hours.

I hope this information is useful in making your own dryer. The beautiful flat sheets are well worth the work!
Happy building! And happy paper making!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First Attempt

Paper mache is something new to me. I'm working on some mask projects for a children's art program I'm teaching in this summer. It's such a wonderful program. It's a 4 week day camp for children in Southeastern Ohio. These kids have NO art classes in school until high school. Imagine no art class. I can't imagine my elementary years without it! If you want to read up on the Circle Round the Square program, just click here.
Okay, so back to the paper mache... I'm teaching mask and costume making (for a play they will put on) and have decided on paper mache masks from recycled materials. (no big surprise there!)
This sun mask is my first attempt. It's made from an old computer box, news paper, flour paste, and old tissue papers from Christmases past.


The moon is still in progress. This one I had my two older kids do much of the work to make sure they could finish each step in our allotted time. All we have to do is cover it in tissue now.
These over sized masks are a lot of fun. I was inspired by a Bread and Puppet Theatre performance I saw this spring. This is the basic look I'm going for. It's great on stage, and something that's quite accessible for the kids.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Recycling

I've been so busy in the studio, that I haven't had the time to post. So while dinner is in the oven, I will take a few moments to share one of the projects I have been working on.
More recycling! (one of my favorite pastimes...) This is a project that I just finished for my Mom. She is giving a presentation on sustainability and the family at a conference next week. She wanted to give each attendee something recycled and beautiful. So I made bookmarks made from my junk mail and old banana peels.

Pictured here I have my junk mail torn up and ready to go. Here it is in the beater.

I cooked the dried banana peels, then beat them in the beater.
Banana peel alone does not work well as a pulp. I like to mix it with something else. Abaca is usually my first choice, but this project is all about the recycling. Together, the recycle mix and the banana peels make a beautiful pulp. I think it almost looks like granite.

For this project, I made my first ever mould and deckle. It measures 2x6 inches. Perfect for a bookmark.
In all, I made about 120 bookmarks. Hopefully everyone will like this paper as much as I do. More importantly, I hope people open their eyes to the possibilities of "beautiful junk".