Hi Athena and marblers.... that's great. If I were to make paper I would need thousands of sheets a year at least. I would, if I could, like to approximate the papers from the 1700s to some degree. I believe I am thinking of Laid rag paper, similar in feel to Strathmore charcoal or Ingres, without the "stretchy when wet" issues that cause buckling when laid down, even after you wet AND dry and stack them for weeks. I love the feel of it though. Most of my customers prefer a "wove" paper, just flat finish, like an offset vellum. Those choosing to polish the papers too, prefer the flat surface. Natur Text comes close to this, everyone was happy until it stopped working!
What is the feasibility of setting up on a scale to make at least 300 sheets of 19 X 25 a month? Would it be possible do you think to set aside one week a month to deal with this? Is it something you could easily train someone else to do? I would assume a Hollander beater would be a must. I have seen somewhere, plans to make your own approximation on the web for way cheaper. And racks galore of course. I do have the room fortunately. Who knows, just as bookbinders used to be their own marblers, maybe marblers will need to make their own paper in the future. You'd think there would be one company, a mid size one most likely, that would develop a paper just right for marbling and in at PH7 for those who want it. And at a reasonable cost of course. My business would be dead if I had to buy papers at several dollars a sheet or more. I'd have a nervous breakdown every time I ruined a sheet. Work is slow enough with the economy as it is!
I have played fingerstyle guitar (and now Celtic Harp) nearly my whole life. I went through all the big name guitar makes and some from smaller hand builders, tried all the different models. This one sounded great but was hard to handle...another was easy to play but sounded awful, the fingerboard or neck could be too big or small, on and on. I spent my whole life picking them up, trading them up, and finally decided to build my own. I got exactly what I wanted, and am now on #5. I had two wonderful teachers and was very fortunate. So why not go this route with papers too. I just built a harp, so am not afraid to try papermaking....but finding the time is the trouble. It goes back to the old saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself". Not that I don't think others turn out wonderful papers and instruments, I just keep searching for the one that is just right for my purposes and will stay that way.
The main thing I really feel about papers, is that there must be something affordable out there, not just for people like myself who feel their customers won't pay an extra $4.00 a sheet or more for a fine handmade paper, honestly, most don't really care, but for workshop students, kids wanting to learn marbling, for experimenting. It's difficult enough and tricky enough on its own without adding this paper problem. it has discouraged many from marbling. I get so many private emails from people who say things just don't work. For now, the sulphite papers can fill that void, but I fear the day they might start shoveling calcium carbonate into the mix. If this next ream of papers coming next week is right, I will order tons of it and store it.
There is the Dieu Donne paper mill in NYC that offers workshops, I may look into it, though it is a major haul into NYC. They do have a one day intro class if anyone is interested. I believe they may be more geared to the artistic paper product, paper as art, that would not be practical for marbling but all the same, perhaps one can learn something and take a different direction. I have also had numerous people who order paints tell me they were "bad". It was just the paper all along. When I switched them to a different paper, or sent test sheets, they did fine, got brilliant colors. Still, I wonder how many others just gave up and thought they just couldn't do it.
I had thoughts that I couldn't marble anymore. I have 31 years under my belt with this, and as I said I started to dread especially any large orders. Now, since seeing the sulphite papers work so well, and my colors restored to real brilliance, and see the colors take to and lay on this paper beautifully, I cannot wait to get into the studio to marble again. I wish I had more time, and someone to manage the rest of my life, so I could just marble non stop for a few months. It is a pleasure with the right paper. Simple as that.
Good luck on your paper making experiments, Athena! Please keep us posted! And have fun with it.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 10:29 PM
Subject: [Marbling] papers and alum
This is exactly why I make my own papers, although I wish there was
more information on the chemistry behind both paper making, and
marbling. I'm starting a center for Aqueous media (paper and marbling)
in Boston, MA with the hopes of doing more research in this area. The
fibers that I find work best for water-based marbling are kozo, gampi,
and abaca. Although I do have a marbled carrot on my carrot fiber
paper, but the wet strength wasn't great and I tore a corner marbling it.
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