Exercise C Papermaking

Historians believe that the Sumerians utilized the earliest writing surfaces, beginning about 5,000 years ago; these were clay tablets. About 4,500 years ago, the F.gyp tians developed papyrus sheets (the word paper comes from this», anfi since that time writing surfaces have remained largely of botanical origin. Papyrus (Cyperus

Procedure for Exercise C

Mold And Deckles



when the water is drained off. Typically, the^c cells arc tra-cheids> vessels, and fibers, but in papcrmaking terms, they are all called fibers. Wood pulp was first used to make paper in 1840, and today most paper is prepared from wood pulp. In fact, each year approximately one billion trees are cut down to satisfy our demand for paper, and active research is being conductcd to find alternative sources of pulp. In diis lab, wc will be making paper from pulp produced from a variety of plant materials.

Materials Needed for Exercise C


Extra piece of screen

Iron and ironing board (or other surface that will not be harmed by the heat of the iron)

Microwave oven (optional)

Mold and deckle frame for papcrmaking

Plastic tub (dishwashing tub) containing warm water

Rolling pin

Several picccs of blotting paper Sponge

Various plant materials, such as leaves, flowers, petals, straw, etc.

Procedure for Exercise C

  1. Sclcct the type of plant material you want to use for your paper, and tear or cut it into small picccs (about 2-3 cm in diameter).
  2. Read the following instructions completely before you begin.
  3. Obtain the papcrmaking wooden form, called a mold and deckle (fig. 3.7). The mold is the bottom half with the mesh screen attached. The deckle is the open frame. Notice that die deckle fits snugly on top of the papyrus) is a sedge (grasslikc plant growing in wet places) that is native to Egypt and surrounding areas. The writing surface was made from thin slices of pith (from the center of the stem) that were beaten and laid lengthwise; then other strips were laid crosswise on top. The mat was moistened, then pressed, dried, and rubbed smooth. Papyrus continued to be used as a writing surface for about 3.000 years. Today, it is mainly used for decorative pieces (fig. 3.6).

True paper is prepared from pulp, which is a slurry of separate plant cells dispersed in a watery suspension. Papcrmaking can be traccd back to the second century in China, where the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree (along with other plants) was used to prepare pulp. Sim ilar processes were independendy developed by the Aztecs and the Mayans in the New World. Many different types of plant material can be used as a source of pulp, including straw, leaves, stems, and even old rags. The cells in the pulp arc matted into a thin layer and then compressed; however, the cells must be long enough to form a mat


  2. This is die basic utensil that has been used to make paper for hundreds of years.
  3. Put die mold and deckle together, and place it in the plastic tub. Hold the mold and deckle down, and add enough lukewarm water so that the level of the water is just below the top of the mold and deckle. Leave them in the water.
  4. Fill the blender about one-half to two-thirds full with lukewarm water. Add the material you have selected for pulp and let it soak up water for 2 or 3 minutes. Cover the blender and blend on low for about 10 seconds, then on high for about 30 seconds. This should make a nice, smooth slurry. If there are lumps, continue blending for anorhcr 10 to 15 seconds.
  5. While holding the mold and deckle in the water, slowly pour the pulp onto the screen. If any pours on the deckle, push it onto the mold. Swirl the pulp around to distribute it evenly over the screen. Try noi leave any thin spots. If you have too much pulp, save it for a second sheet of paper.
  6. While holding the mold and deckle together wirh both hands, lift straight up out of the water. Hold the form over the rub until it stops dripping. (If the pulp has shifted too much, you can put the mold and deckle back in the water and swirl it around again to redistribute.)
  7. Place the mold and deckle on your lab bench (on a dry towel or paper towels). Carefully lift the deckle off the mold. Place the extra piece of screening on the "new paper." Using a damp sponge, gently squeeze down, pressing out more water. Squeeze out water from the sponge, and continue blotting and squeezing. Then, holding the extra screening on die paper, turn die mold over onto a drv area of the towel. Use

the sponge to squeeze out more water from the underside of the mold.

  1. Very carefully lift die mold away. This will leave your new paper on die separate piece of screen. (Note: If you find that die paper is sticking to the mold, peel it off gently, starting at one corner.)
  2. Obtain a piece of dry blotting paper and place it on top of your new paper. Turn this sandwich (blotter/paper/screen) over so that the screen is on top and the dry blotter is on the bottom. L'se a rolling pin to roll over the screen several times; this will squeeze out more water into the blotter.
  3. Carefully remove the screen and replace it with a dry blotter. Flip this over again so that the new dry blotter is on the bottom. Roll again. This process of pressing the sheet to a dry blotter is called ^couching." Repeat one or two more times with additional drv blotters.
  4. Your new paper is now ready to dry. If a microwave oven is available, place the paper in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes on high. Alternatively, the paper can be placed in a warm place to dry. ( Note: the blotting paper can also be dried in the microwave and reused by other students.)
  5. If your new paper is wrinkled, iron it between two sheets of clean white paper. Set the iron on ^vooP setting with no steam. (Note: If you intend to use your paper lor writing, you may wish to add sizing, which adds a smooth coating to the paper. It also prevents ink from bleeding through the paper. Starch or gelatin can be used for the sizing, but this is an optional step that can be done at home.)

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