This is nothing new, if you saw my giraffe post from last summer then you will have seen me use this method back then. I also used it at Christmas time on cards. However I have never before written up a full blog post about just the technique. Recently I shared a photo of some papercasts and was asked how I made them, so here goes..
There are 2 methods that I know of, I much prefer method 1, but I have done them both here for you to see. At the end you will see why i prefer method 1.
I took 30 sheets of toilet tissue, and soaked them in a bowl with warm water. Leave them soaking for 30mins, this starts to break apart the fibres.
Next, use a hand blender to break down the fibres even further. I DO NOT use this blender in the kitchen, it is kept purely for paper making.
Small kitchen items are cheap enough that you can buy spares for your art rooms, I have a bowl, sieve, spoons, blender, mixer,iron,cat litter tray,cloths etc All these items live in my art room and never go near any food.
Tip the wet pulp into a cat litter tray..
Then add more warm water, I added 2 bowlfuls of water to this mix. Exact quantities are not important.
Next you will need a frame and deckle. You can buy papermaking ones, but it is so easy to make a set. All you need are 2 identical frames. Take out the glass and backing boards, and remove the little metal clips from the back that hold it all together.
Now take a piece of net fabric, i used a piece from an old net curtain. Staple it to the back of one of your frames, making sure it is stretched tight and flat.
Any net/mesh will do, as long as the holes are small.
Now, lay the empty frame over the one with the net... as in this photo... so that the frames are back to back.
Holding the 2 frames togerther, swish them back and forth UNDER the surface of the water/pulp mix. This will cause the pulp to swirl around in the water and separate evenly.
once the pulp is moving evenly, slowly lift the frames up. The pulp will settle inside the frame, and excess water will pour out of the sides... so keep it held over the tray. Do not shake the frames, the pulp is still too wet and you will dislodge it.
Hold for a few seconds, then remove the top frame.
Take a chamois and VERY carfeully press it onto the wet pulp, this will push more water out underneath and also soak up some water on top.
Lay a cloth down on your work surface and flip the frame over onto the cloth. Gently tap until the sheet of pulp comes away. Lay another cloth on top and press carefully to absorb more water.
Congratulations, you have now just made a sheet of handmade paper. If you want sheets of paper, then do nothing more, just let it dry.
However, we are casting.. so gently tear away sections of the wet paper..
and lay them over your chosen molds, n my case I like to use rubber stamps. Take a dry cloth and press the paper into place, squidging it into all the crevices.
leaving the stamp inside for now, put your paper casts onto another cloth or towel to dry. Carrying on, making more sheets of paper, then tearing them up and pushing them down onto stamps.
Once you have used all the pulp in the cat litter tray. I made about 6 sheets with my pulp... you can then take each one, and carefully flip it over in the palm of your hand, remove the stamp. Try to not twist the wet paper, lift out the stamp as cleanly as possible and then set them out to dry.
They will take approx 12hrs.
When they are dry you can see the lovely detail that has been captured.
It is hard to say which stamps will work the best, but those with larger, more open designs do seem to work better.
You will soon see which of your stamps work the best..
You can now cut around each papercast, I like to leave a small border. Now you are ready to spray with ink, or paint... and of course they look wonderful with a little gilding wax/treasure gold rubbed over the surface.
This is the paper that was cut off... don't throw it out, next time you make paper, just throw it into the bowl and soak it to break it back up.
I did say to use bolder, more open designs, they really do work best. However I tried this one just to show you. The details are very small and close together. The papercast has worked, but the details are not so well defined. Also as this is a more collage type stamp, you will note that I tore around the edge rather that cutting it. For this particular stamp this works well and adds to the softer feel.
Okay I promised you 2 methods.
Lay your chosen stamps down, and spritz with water.
Lay a sheet of toilet tissue over each stamp and spritz again, press the tissue down.
Repeat, till you have used 3 sheets on each stamp, keep them thoroughly wet.
Set aside to dry. You can see this method makes lovely deep and clear impressions.
Cut them out..looking great huh..
But as you handle them look what happens..
The sheets just pull apart, completely..This method is just unstable.
The reason this happens is because you are just pressing sheets together, with nothing to hold them in place. So why does the first method work? that's just paper and water right?
In the first method you are breaking apart all the paper fibres, then in the water,as you swish them around they start to interlock and want to cling back together. Pressing them into place helps this further.
I am not sure how to explain it further... if you took two woollen sweaters and lay them on top of each other, pressed them down... nothing would happen right, they wouldnt stay together. BUT, if you unravelled the yarn, and threw all that yarn together and mixed it up.. it would get all tangled and cling together. The same happens with the paper fibres. Method 2 is less successful because the sheets are smooth and already compressed, the fibres are flattened and so cannot cling to anything new. Method 1, roughs up those fibres, and they grab onto each other as soon as they touch.
I hope that helps, I realize method 1 is more more time consuming, but you do get a lot of papercasts from it. From 30 sheets of toilet tissue i got 40 papercasts.
Here are some that i did last year, they look great once coloured.
Here are some more, that I made into this hanging board. They add a lot of dimension.