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papermaking-msg - 8/24/99


Producing pulp, making handmade paper.


NOTE: See also the files: painting-msg, plaster-msg, parchment-msg, inks-msg, wax-tablets-msg, paper-msg, pasteboard-msg, early-books-msg, calligraphy-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: jct at reed.EDU (Jack Thompson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Thought experiment/papermaking

Date: 27 Sep 1993 01:53:57 -0400


As one who has designed and built (with the help of many friends) a

papermill which uses a 4' overshot waterwheel to operate a stamp mill to

reduce fiber to pulp for paper making I am able to assert, with some

confidence, that it is not necessary to wait for the plants to grow to

make the fiber which may be spun to make the clothing which must be worn

to make the rags from which paper pulp may be derived.


However, it should not be assumed that paper pulp may be easily derived

from fiber.  It takes about 40 hours of beating to make the pulp; whether

from raw fiber of rags.  And then the paper must be made. Our current

(western) technology began in Spain, during the 12th c.(yes, I know about

the 8th c. incursion of asian papermaking technology into the middle east,

and the derivation of papermaking from Chinese antecedents.)


Mention has been made of facist political movements to support this

transmigration, and of chemists, and founders, and blacksmiths; what of

the wire drawers, and white smiths?  And more.  Chemistry. Alembics have

been known for some time.  Basic chemistry is not a serious problem.  Time is.


In this circumstance, I align myself with those who are willing to get the

hell out of the area as soon as possible.  Let the facists and neo-nazis

get along as best they can.  They will not be there long.


Jack C. Thompson



From: jliedl at nickel.laurentian.ca

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: thought exp.-papermaking

Date: 27 Sep 93 11:20:33 -0500

Organization: Laurentian University


David Schroeder <ds4p+ at andrew.cmu.edu> writes:


[Regarding printing technology]


>   To get the paper you need better weaving technology to have more

>   linen rags around that are inexpensive.  Making the paper once you

>   have the rags wouldn't be _that_ hard -- especially with the books

>   we'd have on hand that describe the process in detail -- but it

>   would take a while to get the cloth to serve as a raw material.

>   Still, printing (Korean style) and papermaking are two of the

>   more easily duplicated technologies, all things considered.


England's never going to be a good centre for papermaking in period--a

serious lack of linen for rags was a major stumbling block to the

creation of a native papermaking industry in the sixteenth century.  

English paper made then had a distinct resemblance to brown paper we'd

wrap parcels in.


For both a source of rag linen and a market to support your books,

your best bet would be Byzantium, et al.


For more on the problems of papermaking, see Chapter I: "Preliminaries:

The Introduction of Paper into Europe" in Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean

Martin's _The Coming of the Book:  the Impact of Printing, 1450-1800_

(1958, 1976, 1984) Verso Edition:  ISBN 0-86091-797-5.


I'd try using parchment for a start--parchment books would be possible

with a block method, I'd think.


Ancarett Nankivellis

Janice Liedl

Laurentian University, Canada




From: jct at reed.EDU (Jack Thompson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Water wheels

Date: 10 Oct 1993 03:48:34 -0400


Now, I've only designed and built one waterwheel.  It is an overshot wheel

four feet in diameter, and about 16" wide.  It operates a medieval-style

three hammer stamp mill for producing paper pulp.  It can lift 50 lbs.

with power to spare.  I have not computed the horsepower; it was

sufficient for me that the damned thing lifted the hammers.  At approx 24

rpm the wheel begins bringing water up the backside, reducing efficiency.


I would not consider building a breast or undershot wheel. A turbine

would be better than an overshot wheel, but the penstock takes more than a

bit of cooperage.  Nor would I build a 10 meter-wide wheel; the

engineering problems would be daunting enough today, much less 993 AD.  If

I wanted to increase hp, I would build a taller wheel. Say, 10'-20'

diameter and about 12-18 inches wide, with a large pulley stepped down to

where there would be sufficient rpm to crank an alternator.  I would build

a vibrating reed voltage regulator to maintain 110v, that being the

easiest type to build with available materials and maintain.


Jack C. Thompson

(who was an electrician before he became a conservator)

Thompson Conservation Laboratory



From: sewatson at eos.ncsu.edu (STEPHANIE ELIZABETH WATSON)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Papermaking

Date: 29 May 1994 05:47:16 GMT

Organization: North Carolina State University, Project Eos


millsbn at mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca (Bruce Mills) writes:

>I have recently developed this insane desire to make paper.  If anyone

>could post some good sources on either Japanese or Eurpoean paper making

>techniques, I would be obliged.

>Many thanks



A suggestion -

NCSU is one of the top universities for Pulp & Paper Technology

in the country.  To learn their profession, they must also learn

the history behind it.  Thus, NCSU is stocked with a great deal of

reading material that may help you in your quest for knowledge!


Unfortunately, it is only a suggestion.  No longer being associated

with anyone in the major, I don't know much else to tell you except

that if you can contact NCSU's College of Forest Resources, I am

sure they could point you in the right direction for titles and



Educational Outreach Director      (919) 515-3184

Pulp & Paper Foundation, Inc.      (919) 515-5660

Natural Resources Library   (919) 515-2306 / 515-3513


I hope that these may come in handy for you or someone like yourself

who is interested.




Stephanie E. Watson         | "Diplomacy: n. The ability to tell

Junior, Computer Science    | someone to go to Hell so that they

North Carolina State        | look forward to making the trip!"

       Who else would send you such annoying messages?



From: tip at lead.tmc.edu (Tom Perigrin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Papermaking

Date: 29 May 1994 18:32:47 GMT

Organization: A.I. Chem Lab, University of Arizona


(Bruce Mills) writes:

>I have recently developed this insane desire to make paper.  If anyone

>could post some good sources on either Japanese or Eurpoean paper making

>techniques, I would be obliged.

>Many thanks



One of the people in our living history group decided to demonstrate making

paper at Rennaisence Festival this last year.  Apart from the difficulties of

finding a period looking tub big enough for the vat, and making the screen

and deckle in a period fashion, it's really fun and easy. Once the tools

were made, it's so easy we were having visiting kids make sheets of paper, hang

then on a line to dry, and they could collect their paper before they left

the festival.  We've had enquiries from teachers, who say these kids came

to school with a ragged bit of paper,a nd infected the whole class with the

enthusiasm for making paper.   I guess it's such an everyday part of a kids

life, and they can get into the "I made this" aspect of it.


First of all, books.   We found a Dover book that is particularly good.  

Unfortunately my freind has my copy (I never loan books, and now I

remember why... I hate having to phone and beg to have my books returned)

so I can't tell you the title.   It is a good historical overview.


To find out HOW to do it, try your local library.   Handmade paper is a big

arts and crafts thing.  The librarian tells me that a lot of elderly

people like it because it is relatively easy and clean work.   I have

a list of books at the end, but really, any library should have enough

for you.


So, WHY is papermaking so easy????   Because certain types of pulp WANT to be

paper!  Well, more honestly, they want to join together somehow...   Cellulose

fibers have a natural tendancy to hydrogen-bond to each other...  Hydroxyl

groups on one long molecular chain of cellulose bind to hydroxyl groups

in another through a R-O-H ... O(H)-R bond.  This bond is only 5% as strong

as a normal molecular bond,  but if we have dozens or hundreds of them between

two fibers then tehy are bonded as strong as if they were covalently bonded.

This is half of what holds wood fibers together.  The other half is a

"glue" called lignen.


When you take wood chips and treat them in certain ways, you can dissolve out

the lignin, and replace the intra-fibre hydrogen bonds with fibre-water

hydrogen bonds.  Throw away the lignin (wash in into the stream, historically)

and now you have pulp.   If you pour some pulp on a screen, the fibers start

to touch each other, and they allow the OH groups of the fibers to

rejoin, allowing the water to bond to itself and run off. Some of the

water stays, and has to be pressed, and then dried, out of the paper.  

But you can see that when you make paper, you lay a web of cellulose

"rats nests" on top of each other, and they form these hydrogen bonds.

The paper literally bonds it'self into a big molecule with strong covalent

and weak hydrogen bonds (many chemists will argue the idea of it being

a single molecule... call it a supramolecular hydrogenbonded complex).


You might ask, why does the water leave?  The cellulose-OH ... H2O bond is

just as strong as the cellulose-OH ... O(H)-cellulose bond.  Well, when

paper drieds the water is less ordered, so even entropy is on your side

in paper making!!!!


Your first step ... you make pulp.   This is not trivial. You can't

cut fibers to length, because they need to be frayed, but still long.  If

you cut them they tend to be small rounded granuals, which doesn't hold

together well...  you need a web of tangles.   So people use stamping

mills...   this is a lot of work.   A mortar and pestle just pounds the

fibers (wood, linen rags, cotton rags) for HOURS and HOURS.   Water power

or slave labor is needed.   Note how paper became cheaper than vellum ONLY

in the later part of the power revolution.  So, unless you are really

enthusiastic, you cheat on this step.   Take old paper or dryer lint, and

pulp that.  It's easier to recycle pulp than to make really good new

pulp.  Computer printout is very good pulp source, and generally free

from the comp center recycling bin.  You can chang ethe characteristics

of your paper by adding paper towels, newspaper, dryer lint, onion skins,


Now, if you plan to make a LOT of paper, go out and buy a used food disposer.

Buy an old sink from the junkyard, mountit up, and put a short length of

pipe on the bottom with a cork.   Fill it about 1/3 full of paper and lint,

add water, whirl for a few minutes, pull the cork and collect the pulp.


Otherwise, you can use a blender.  Blendors work better than cuisinarts,

because they batter, while cuisinarts slice.


You can make pulp ahead of time, strain it, and store it in the frige...


Now you are ready to make paper.   All you need is a vat, a screen and

deckle, something to couch it on, and a press...  The good news is that

you can do this with common kitchen stuff, if you want. The bad news is

that if you want to do it in a period fashion it starts to get slightly

bothersome (I did it, it ain't impossible).


Stay tuned for Part II




AUTHOR: Bell, Lilian A.

    TITLE: Plant fibers for papermaking

PUBLISHER: Liliaceae Press, 1981 [i.e. 1984].

SUBJECTS: Paper, Handmade.   Fiber plants.

   AUTHOR: Toale, Bernard.

    TITLE: The art of papermaking

PUBLISHER: Davis Publications, c1983.

SUBJECTS: Paper, Handmade.


   AUTHOR: Krill, John.

    TITLE: English artists paper : Renaissance to Regency

PUBLISHER: Trefoil, 1987.

SUBJECTS: Paper--History--Exhibitions.   Paper making--Great

           Britain--History--Exhibitions.   Paper, Handmade--Great Britain--Hist


   AUTHOR: Schreyer, Alice D.

    TITLE: East-West: hand papermaking traditions and innovations : an

           exhibition catalogue

PUBLISHER: Hugh M. Morris Library, University of Delaware Library, 1988.

SUBJECTS: Paper, Handmade--History--Exhibitions.   University of Delaware.



  AUTHOR       Hamady, Walter.

     TITLE        Paper-making by hand.

PUBLISHER    Minor Confluence [i.e. Mt. Horeb] Wis. : Perishable Press, c1982.

SUBJECTS     Paper, Handmade. Papermaking.



From: tip at lead.tmc.edu (Tom Perigrin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Papermaking

Date: 30 May 1994 11:59:39 GMT

Organization: A.I. Chem Lab, University of Arizona


Papermaking, Part II


Hi Folx...  it's 4:30 AM, and I can't sleep.


Okay, so now you have a lot of pulp...  now what?    You need a vat to

contain it in.  You can use half barrels, but all that charring on the

inside needs to be scraped off first (well, not really, but it is messy

if you don't).  You can find huge caldrons, if you live in the parts of

the world where caldrons are findable.   Or you can make one out of wood.  

Seal it well.  I seldom suggest using polyurethane, but maybe because

it is 4:30 and I am soooo sleepy I'll suggest it now.  For test runs you

can even use the type of plastic tubs that you wash your dishes in.


Now, the screen and deckle.  How authentic do you want to be?  If you

want to experiment, and make round paper you can stretch a nylon over an

embroidery frame.  You can go to your local window store and ask them

to make you a screen the size you want...  Or you can make one out of

wood and strech some sort of screen on it.  Aluminum screen from the hardware

store works well.  Nylon is too stretchy for anything but short term

experimentation.   If you have a lot of money, you can buy "brass strainer

cloth" or "strainer screen".   It's not easy to find, but you can get it

much much finer than normal aluminum.   No matter what you use, you need

to attach it to your wooden frame with brass, copper, or aluminum nails.

Rust makes "fox" marks on paper.


If you want to be REAL authentic, you make your own screen.  Screens normally

were not made even, like window screen.  They were made of heavy wires in

the "weft" direction, and thin wires spaced about evey 1 inch in the "warp"

direction.   I made one.  I made a simple "loom", and strung it with

fine wire for the warp, and then wove in heavy gauge wire for the weft.

(Hey, all you weavers, do I get a "gold star" for this obscure weaving

project, or would I need to have shorn the sheep and spun the wire from

the copper equivalent of steel wool to get ull credit?).     Anyway, this

was a PAIN, and only worked moderately well.


Okay, now you have your screen.  You need a deckle.  This is a wooden frame

that fits over the screen, and is the same size as the frame that the screen

is stretched on.  Oil/wax both the wood of the screen and deckle well.


The screen and deckle are used thusly... you have your pulp floating the

the vat.  You stir it with your hands, and then press the deckle and screen

together.   You do it so the screen frame is on the bottom, the screen is

in the middle, and the deckle is above.   Now, lower that into the vat,

swish it all around, and then raise the thing through the pulp to get a nice

even layer.  Note how the deckle "traps" some pulp.   Now, as the water

drains through, give it a few shakes to help tangle the fibers.   When the

water has drained off so that the pulp is beginning to form a sheet of paper,

you can set the thing on a rack over the vat, at an angle, to complete



Now it't time to couch the paper off.   You have a sheet of felt on a curved

surface.  You remove the deckle, making the new sheet of super flimsy paper

on top.  You flip the thing over, and roll the thing across the felt.  If it

all goes well, the paper comes off on the couch.  I find pressing the back of

the screen helps.  This was the hardest part to learn, and we often had to help

the kids couch off their sheets.   Once a sheet is couched off, you can

add anothe sheet of felt and couch off another...


When you have a thick stack of felts, called a post, it's time to squish

out the water.  If you are doing demos, you can take of post of 2 felts and

1 sheet of paper, and use a heavy rolling pin.  Otherwise, you use some

sort of press.   BIG huge presses with screws are traditional, but other

types work too.  I made one out of oak 4x6's that looks like a huge nutcracker.

You put the post in between some oak 6x12s, and place that where the nut

would go, and then dangle a few hundred pounds of person and rocks from

the ends of the handles.  That will easily give a ton of pressure, which is

barely enough.  A professional papermaker (industrial scale) tells me that

paper from the screen is still 80% water, so you need caution not to tear

it while doing the couching and pressing.


Then you carefully pull the post apart, peeling the felts off of the still

damp paper, and hang it up to dry.




We have tried all sorts of variations...   onion skins, dryer lint,

finely chopped straw, flower petals, colored threads, etc...   everything

works, more or less.


Of course, there are still finishing steps... you get to polish the paper

(if you want), by rubbing it with a stone or other fine abrasive.  You

also need to size it if you plan to write on it.   This means washing the

surface with gelatine or glue, allowing to dry, and polishing.


You want water marks?   You take wire, shape it into your water mark, and

affix it to your screen.   Let it drain very very well before couching.


Anyway, making paper is a lot of fun.  When you are in the middle of the

process you are wet, and covered with damp lint and pulp... but it's clean!

And in the hot Arizona sun it's kind of nice being damp while demonstrating.

You can try it with a dish tub, a couple of embrodery frames and some nylon,

two peices of felt, and rolling pin.  If you like it, move up.


Your humble and insomniac servant,


Thomas Ignatius Perigrinus



From: David Schroeder <ds4p+ at andrew.cmu.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Papermaking

Date: Sun, 29 May 1994 20:35:42 -0400

Organization: Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA


Excerpts from netnews.rec.org.sca: 29-May-94 Re: Papermaking by Tom

Perigrin at lead.tmc.ed

> First of all, books.   We found a Dover book that is particularly good.  

> Unfortunately my friend has my copy (I never loan books, and now I

> remember why... I hate having to phone and beg to have my books returned)

> so I can't tell you the title.   It is a good historical overview.


> To find out HOW to do it, try your local library.   Handmade paper is a big

> arts and crafts thing.  The librarian tells me that a lot of elderly

> people like it because it is relatively easy and clean work.   I have

> a list of books at the end, but really, any library should have enough

> for you.


  Hi folks!


  I'm not sure, but I believe the book's title is "Papermaking" ...


        My best -- Bertram of Bearington

                   (late 15th c. printer, playing "Minus 500 years...")



Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:46:45 -0600

From: "Rikki Mitman" <esmitman at ghg.net>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Re: paper making history


Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft

by Dard Hunter  ISBN 0-486-23619-6

Although published in the 1940s, this remains the definitive book on

papermaking. A few points (such as paper's invention by Ts'ai Lun in 105 AD)

have been contradicted by more recent finds, but by and large this is the

most comprehensive source I have found. It is in print and available in

paperback or through ILL.


Mistress Teleri ferch Pawl

Barony of the Stargate




Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 13:32:53 EST

From: <SNSpies at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: References to Paper Mache in Period?


<< I am investigating uses and techniques of paper mache in period, and would

greatly appreciate any references you might be able to point me to. >>


How about the ?15th deck of playing cards in The Cloisters (NYC, MMA) that are

made of pasteboard?





Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 14:11:48 EST

From: <GoodhueMA at aol.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: References to Paper Mache in Period?


<<Mistress Teleri ferch Pawl is investigating uses and techniques of paper

mache in period>>


In "Traite d' Architecture" printed in 1567, Philibert Delorme describes dolls

made of paper paste which were pressed into hollow molds. These toys used

paper pulp, bran, sawdust and vegetable matter to make the pulp.  Adding

arsenic stopped the rats from eating the finished dolls. It isn't exactly

paper mache the way we use it today but rather close.


HL Agrippina Archon

Barony of Bjornsborg

Kingdom of Ansteorra


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org