Posts Tagged With: papermaking

Table, take 3

Originally published May 1, 2012

This is the third table I’ve built, and it will be the most complex, and the simplest, at the same time. It is designed to be “collapsible” so that I can set it up and take it down every day when Dad drives off to work and leaves me space to play in the garage. And by collapsible I mean it will sit on sawhorses. See? Simple.

The tabletop itself, though, is a whole other animal. This is the table that I will be pulling sheets on, and that is a very wet process. I did one batch of pulp last week as a dry-run-prove-my-setup-works sort of thing (and it does – almost), and the poor scrap of plywood I used as the tabletop will never be the same. It’s warped now, and has a furry layer of dried paper pulp drips on one side.

So the new tabletop has to be as close to totally waterproof as I can get it. I really wanted to avoid The Varnish Of Doom that I used on my first mould/deckle set, since it takes forever to cure and smells like death. That’s when my genius mother suggested linoleum. Brainwave! What a fantastic idea.

A waterproof tabletop does me no good at all if the water can just run off the sides, though. It also needs some sort of lip around the edge.

See how this is getting complicated? Just wait, there’s more!

Aside from being waterproof, I wanted this table top to be a strange shape – kind of the shape of a wingnut (does that say anything about me, in a Freudian way?). That way the vat can go in the center, and I can work on two posts of sheets at the same time. Table ergonomics – who knew!

Here is what things look like so far:

The tabletop, in all it’s odd-shaped glory

the unfinished tabletop

Check out the slightly OCD use of wood scraps! I think some of these are older than me.

woodsrcap mosaic

And, after many sticky adventures in the lino glue department, I got this.

linoleum tabletop

I got a remnant piece of linoleum for five bucks (sweet deal!) and pretty much winged it to get it properly glued down. I’ve laid tile before, but tiles are not three feet long and intent on curling into the glue. It was an evening filled with muttered curses, sticky fingers, and an eventual acceptance that glue smears are a fact of life.

And see those strips of wood at the top of the photo? Those are destined to be the water-catching lip. When I finally get done varnishing them, anyway.

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The pressure is mounting

Originally published Apr. 30, 2012

But only because the press is now functioning! I think we called this thing the Armadillo when I was at Carleton, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense since it has a plastic anteater on it. Then again, the fact that it has an anteater on it doesn’t really make sense, either, so let’s just go with it and dub it The Armadillo.

a hydraulic press

Isn’t it pretty? And look at what it’s sitting on – table no. 1!

The Armadillo’s job is to squeeze most of the water out of newly formed paper, so that it can dry faster (in theory – more on that later). It also helps with paper strength and texture. And it can do a really cool embossing trick if I put something textured in there with the paper.

Stay tuned for more progress reports – things are suddenly moving forward at a ferocious pace!

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It lives!

Originally published Apr. 10, 2012

The Critter is alive again after some quick re-wiring and one very nerve-wracking flip of a switch. This is one big step closer to actual papermaking!

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I am the cardboard queen

Originally published Mar. 29, 2012

In preparation for actually making paper, I am making myself a drying system. It will consist of cardboard-cotton-cardboard “sandwiches,” stacked on top of one another (since I can’t afford to knock down a wall and replace it with a heated stainless steel sheet). The cardboard, being corrugated, lets air circulate, while the cotton helps wick moisture out of the new sheets of paper. In theory, anyway.

This style of dryer works best when the cardboard is double-wall corrugated, which is just a fancy way of saying it is a little cardboard sandwich, itself.  Two layers of corrugation for twice the airflow! Problem is, double-wall corrugated is not as easy to find as regular ol’ normal cardboard. But I found a place that would let me order some, and I picked it up this week on Monday.

Well. I got home, unloaded, and realized that 48″ x 36″ sheets are enormous. So what did I do? I got out my trusty box cutter, and the hugest cutting mat I could find, and went to work.

Hours later, I had cut all 44 sheets in half, declared myself queen of all things cardboard, and hauled them down to their destination: the guest bath.

stack of cardboard spanning the bathtub

Let’s just hope this thing doesn’t touch the ceiling after I add the absorbent cotton layers…

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What do 40 pink flamingoes and a kangaroo hide have in common?

Originally published Jan. 11, 2011

They were both hiding in my parents’ garage!

We spent a festive New Year’s weekend hauling boxes around and shoving stuff aside so that I’d be able to get The Critter down from the rafters and actually set it up in the proper place to begin pulping. The poor thing has been neglected for over three years, so here’s hoping it still works …

I can’t decide what I’m most excited about – getting set up in general, or the fact that the Critter is a weird size, so I have to get to build a table for it. Power tools! Hammering! The smell of sawdust! The possibility for mayhem and frustration …

Anyway, I figure some of you might be wondering why on earth my parents have 40 pink plastic flamingoes stashed in their attic. Well, they’re left over from ambushing family members on their 50th birthdays. Wake up, have your coffee, walk outside – GAH! There’s a flock of bright pink birds all over my lawn! Very amusing. Ten of the birds found a permanent home after my ornithologist uncle turned 50 and decided he liked a little color in his yard.

The kangaroo hide has an equally weird little story behind it. I was in Adelaide, SA, on spring break with my parents after my study abroad term. Dad needed a new belt, so we found a little leather and shoe shop – the kind that you can’t find in the US anymore. The owner was a bit frazzled – he was about to close, and he was late for a big dinner party, but he didn’t want to turn us away. So he handed my mom and me $50 and asked if we would please go buy him a bunch of fresh oysters while he helped Dad find the right belt. We did, and when we got back, I found a beautifully tanned and pared kangaroo skin, dyed with walnut and then crumpled. I had to buy it. Wouldn’t you?

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