Friday, April 12, 2013

Papermaking on a grand scale

Last Saturday I travelled north of Gympie to Dion Channer's PaperMill and Studio to start work on some large paper works for my upcoming exhibition at the Caboolture Hub in October (with Pattie Murray).

Dion has a vacuum table which can allow the creation of sheets of paper approx 2m x 1m.  To create the sheets, botanical pulp is thrown/poured/flicked onto the table which is covered by a couching cloth.  The water is then extracted from the pulp using a pump - this is the vacuum.  The couching cloth with the pulp attached is then hung up to dry, and the paper is finally released carefully from the couching cloth to reveal the finished sheet of paper.

Dion had prepared some mulberry pulp from me.  He has imported a substantial quantity of mulberry bark from Italy, and processes it into inner bark (white) and outer bark (brown).  The mulberry makes a beautiful and strong paper, so I was keen to use it for my works.  I also brought along some lemon grass fibre that I had prepared at home during the week.

The theme for the exhibition is 'Passage' referring to the tidal zones of Moreton Bay, and I wanted to create large sheets of paper that reflected my memories of standing in knee-deep water, looking down at the ripples in the mud with the sparkling reflections of the sun dancing across the surface.

I'm extremely grateful to Dion for his generous advice and wealth of experience, especially when it came to thinking about practicalities of 'how are you going to hang this'.  Of course I would have left that to last, but I learnt there are ingenious ways to incorporate hanging systems within the paper as its being made.

It was a very enjoyable but long day, I finally packed up after dark and headed back to Gympie with my very soggy rolls of paper.   Now that the paper is dry and removed from the couching cloths, I can see the results of my papermaking and I'm excited about the possibilities. I'm planning to find a gallery where I can roll out my paper and see what it looks like under gallery lighting and in a big space. 

Lemon Grass Pulp ready to use.

Pulp on the couching cloth

I'm pouring pulp onto the couching cloth on the
vacuum table.  Extreme concentration!

A sheet ready to go, note the wave-like pattern
I have formed with the pulp.

Lemon Grass Sheet with mulberry outer bark

Mulberry sheet with threads, a very delicate and fragile paper,
will look great with the right lighting.
The thread is eco-dyed silk.


  1. This looks amazing! Congratulations. Your exhibit is going to be spectacular.

  2. You must have been in your element here Sandra !
    Fantastic results with threads & lemon grass.