Such Nastiness Made Lovely

Retted Chinese hemp rinsed many times.

Retted Chinese hemp pulp requires much dousing.

Only a paper maker could bear the smell and swoon over such muck as pictured above. The process begun here is known as retting in handmade paper parlance. If you’re the inquisitive or scholarly type I’d suggest reading one of the papermakers extraordinaire’s post about it here: http://paper.lib.uiowa.edu/european.php#retting. Tim Barrett 

Barrett is talking about rag paper from 1300-1800 CE but the site is voluminously informative with great attention to detail.
After I have rinsed the hemp pulp until I cannot smell the rancid odor & the fibers smoothly swirl against each other waiting to fuse and become nature’s miracle that is paper, I will put them into a Valley Hollander for one last beat. I’ve already beat the hemp fiber (initially processed in Idaho) at Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY in a traditionally made stainless steel Hollander (referring to the prototype from Holland circa 1600) developed by David Reina. See: http://www.davidreinadesigns.com/photo-gallery/. Kean University has the weightier Valley. Unfortunately the moveable bed rusted in place & there is no gauge to increase or decrease the rotary beater distance from the bed. Since the pulp has been beat properly the rinsing and additional near bed plate beat makes it stronger & more resilient.
You can download this e-book to get deeper into the reasons for such precision in making paper, especially archival. http://bit.ly/1jdAXQk.

Gothic books made by Jim Croft. Technically we were following his lead but he had a 30-year head start.

Gothic books made by Jim Croft. Technically we were following his lead but he had a 30-year head start.


Before getting back to the task, I wanted to drop an image from my two-week stay at Jim Croft’s Old Ways workshop where he had cooked the hemp fiber in an outdoor cauldron with wood ash & we both retted and rinsed, rinsed and retted. I attended last July and it was a marvelous introduction to paper and Gothic book techniques. He has two bookbinding workshops each year: http://www.traditionalhand.com/oldway/.
Participant Joe Morris pressing couched paper in the wet area of Jim Croft's workshops of wonder.

Participant Joe Morris pressing couched paper in the wet area of Jim Croft’s workshops of wonder.

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