In day 2 of the paper making process, I learned a few things. The tulle (fabric netting material) I used to make the mold was stretchy, and it sagged every time I made a sheet of paper. The sagging may cause the paper to be thicker in the center, because more pulp will tend to concentrate there as the water is draining. I recommend metal mesh for making the mold rather than the tulle. I plan to look for suitable metal mesh, and I’ll share what I find when I make the video.
After soaking the paper overnight, I filled the electric blender half way with water and added just a few pieces of the paper. I found it helps to break up any long strips of paper (if you used a paper shredder) into smaller pieces. The long strips were getting caught in the blades. You don’t want to strain the blender’s motor. (Yesterday, Susan commented that she found an old blender for $5 at a thrift shop – you don’t want to use a blender for food after this!)
The pulp is ready when there are no large pieces of paper remaining. However, over-blending should be avoided, because if the pulp is too fine, the paper will be weaker due to the shorter fibers.
I continued to add more paper in small amounts until the pulp was about the consistency of a thick milkshake. I poured the pulp into the bin and repeated the process until all of the soaked paper had been turned into pulp. I spent more than an hour just blending batches of pulp!
At this point, the pulp is too thick for paper making, so I removed a large amount of the pulp before I added more water to the bin to thin the pulp out. By keeping a lot of the pulp separate, it allowed me to replenish the pulp occasionally during the paper making process. What happens is that each time you form a sheet of paper, some pulp is removed from the bin, making the pulp mixture thinner. The thinner the mixture, the thinner the sheets of paper will be. If you want thick paper, use thick pulp.
To form the paper, the mold (the piece containing the mesh) goes underneath the deckle, with the mesh facing up. Line up both frames perfectly with each other. Agitate the pulp mixture, and dunk the mold and deckle into the pulp (starting out vertically, because you want to scoop the pulp into the deckle). Lift up the mold and deckle and let the water drain back into the bin. Try to hold it parallel to the floor so that the pulp settles evenly on the mesh. If it’s at an angle, the paper might end up thicker on one side.
Once the water has drained, carefully lift the deckle off the mold. If the mesh is very fine, you may be able to turn the mold over and place the pulp face down on the interfacing sheet on the plywood board. This is the method I used. The mesh sagged quite a bit, but the pulp stayed in place. I used a sponge and pressed the back side of the mesh to remove the excess water. I was amazed at how much water came out of the pulp. Once I had sponged the entire surface, I was able to remove the mold. If the pulp is too wet, it has a tendency to stick to the mold.
On a piece of plywood (covered in plastic), I stacked one sheet of paper on top of another with a sheet of interfacing between each one. I was able to form 14 sheets of paper with the pulp made from about 20 sheets of paper. You always get a little less paper out than what you put into it.
When I was finished stacking the sheets, I covered it with another piece of plywood (covered in plastic to keep the plywood dry). I stacked heavy books on top to create a makeshift paper press.
I strained the remaining pulp and squeezed out as much water as possible to dry it and save the pulp for the next time.
The entire process for Day 2 took about 4 to 5 hours.