A mold is a frame covered with mesh. It can be nylon or metal screening. A deckle is an open frame that sits on top of the mold, used to make paper edges straight and flat after pulp is spread on the mold.
In paper making, the process of transferring a wet paper sheet from a mold into something absorbent is called couching.
Did you know you can make your own paper? It's easy, fun, and you get to use the blender for something other than milkshakes.
Handmade paper is stronger than many commercially made papers. It contains no chemicals or acid sizings,so it's gentle on things you might want to mount on it and it lasts longer. Do-it-yourself paper making is a nice complement to making memory books, too! And it's a great way to recycle scraps.
Always be alert when children are using a blender or food processor. You may want to do this part yourself if you are working with very young children. Don't put soggy paper pulp down the drain or you'll stop up the sink! Put it in a strainer, get out all the water, and then throw it away. Or you can add it to a compost pile, if you've got one.
Project: Paper Making
Age: 5 and up with an adult using the blender or food processor
Materials needed: Paper scraps (computer paper and used envelopes work well)
- Large bowl
- Blender or food processor (clean it thoroughly after use)
- Large plastic dishpan
- Old newspapers
- Large spoon (wooden, plastic, or metal)
- Large sponge
- Mold and a deckle (you might want to buy them at a crafts store, but you can make your own)
- Water-resistant boards (Formica works well)
Cover your work area with butcher's paper, plastic, or newspapers. Protect the floor...it's going to get wet!
Assemble all your materials. You'll want your mold, deckle, dishpan, and boards all in a row, so choose a place to work where you've got plenty of counter space or flat work surface.
Tear up scraps of paper into two- or three-inch pieces and soak them in water in a large bowl. Let them soak until the paper is good and soggy. Overnight is good, but it doesn't have to be that long.
Put warm water in the blender until it's about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Add some paper and blend on pulse or just turn on and off. If your blender seems to be straining, remove some paper or add more water. Blend until fairly uniform.
Pour the mixture into the dishpan and repeat blending until the dishpan is about half full. Add enough water to fill 3/4 of the dishpan. The more water you have relative to the paper pulp, the lighter the finished paper will be.
Stir the mixture with a spoon until the pulp is suspended in the water fairly evenly.
Put the deckle on top of the mold with the screen side up. Hold together tightly.
With a smooth motion, stand in front of the dishpan and hold the mold and deckle with your arms out as if it were a mirror in front of you. Scoop the mold and deckle into the mixture in one motion and turn them until they're horizontal while in the mixture. Lift the mold and deckle slowly out of the mixture and let the water drain out. Tip to each corner to get the rest of the water out. Put the mold and deckle down and remove the deckle, disturbing your paper sheet as little as possible. Put the deckle aside.
The next step is called couching. This is the process of transferring the wet paper sheet from the mold onto something absorbent, like a layer of newspaper with paper towels on top. (Later, if you get more into paper making,you'll want to use felt or old wool blankets.) Lay your absorbent material on one of your boards. Quickly turn over the mold onto the covered board. You can use a sponge to dab the back of the mold and remove any remaining water. Carefully peel one edge of the mold and pull it away. Your first paper sheet will be laying on your board. You did it!
To make more sheets, just start another layer of absorbent material in another place and repeat the process.
You can press your sheets between boards, which makes a flatter sheet and speeds the drying process, or let it air-dry, which gives it a more ripply effect. It'll take four hours or more for the paper to dry. Leave the sheets overnight and they'll be dry in the morning! When it feels dry to the touch, carefully peel the paper towels from your paper sheets.
For more interesting paper, you can add bits of colored paper to the blender when you first begin or add bits of confetti, thread, herb flakes, flowers, or grasses to the pulp while it's in the dishpan. Food coloring added in small amounts while the mixture's in the blender makes a good coloring method as well. Experiment!
Paper making is a great activity to do outdoors. One mother I met online uses a small kiddie pool as her mixing tub-there's no need to worry about making a mess of the kitchen!
For more information, Aunt Annie's Craft Page (http:// auntannie.com/) is a great Web site that has a clear, detailed section on paper making, plus instructions on how to make your own deckle and mold.