The Art of Making Paper

*This Guest Blog was written by Sienna Cherrico, wife and better half of Joel Cherrico. Sienna is the Office Manager at Cherrico Pottery, and an Artist who makes paper by hand. This blog post tells about her process of creating handmade paper. You can also watch a video of Sienna’s paper making process on Facebook here. Some technical words are bolded and defined in a glossary at the end of the post. 

Why I Find Papermaking Therapeutic

As I sit to begin writing this post, by hand, on paper, I am watching the rain fall and drips splash in the puddles. A perfect reflection of how I view the papermaking process. Respecting the pace at which water drips.

I have loved paper, in the form of books, journals, sketch pads, and cards or stationary for as long as I can remember. My mom is an artist and when I was young she made paper castings. She would get paper pulp1 from the local paper mill in five gallon buckets. Then, she would design and carve her own molds from foam insulation boards. Pulp was pressed into the molds with a sponge, trying to remove as much water as possible, for it to air dry. When dry, she would artistically paint the castings to be hung in people’s homes.

Hence, I grew up with my hands in pulp. I got to help my mom create these forms, while watching the water absorb into the sponge, as the fibers in the pulp formed together. 

(My mother showing me the process of paper casting)

So, when many years later, as a senior art student in college, I was introduced to papermaking I instantly fell in love. The process nostalgically brought me back to my childhood.

Only now, I was learning to manipulate the pulp into forming sheets of paper, and out of local plant material!

When an art form is a direct product of the earth, it is so much more powerful to me. Your body is so involved in the process, from collecting and preparing the fibers to forming each sheet. It’s a healing process for me, my mind is free to wander and my body is so familiar with the process that I get in a calming rhythm. I feel connected to the earth in my own way through this bond of plant fibers and water.

A Brief History Of Papermaking

Humans have been writing and documenting for centuries, perhaps since the very beginning of time. Before paper was invented, people wrote on bones, monuments of stone, papyrus, wood, metals, leaves, and bark from trees. Parchment was used in both Europe and Asia Minor, made from sheep skin, as early as 1500B.C. The true origin of paper has been disputed, an emperor in China was credited in A.D. 105. However, historians have found fragments of paper made from hemp in China that came from nearly two centuries earlier. In the year A.D.615 the papermaking process spread to Japan and finally to Spain in Europe by 1151. The first paper mill was built in England around 1488. Papermaking became westernized and reached the United States, through a German Immigrant in Pennsylvania, in 1690.

In Asia many of the materials that were being used to make paper were bamboo, silk, tree bark, and other plant materials. When papermaking reached Europe they began making paper out of old recycled cotton rags, as the source was abundant at that time and eliminated the steps of harvesting and breaking down the plant fibers. The process of creating pulp started with mallets.  A person would beat the fibers with a mallet until they broke down. Then in 1680 in Holland a beater with a motor and rotating blades that could be lowered to break the fibers into pulp was invented, the Hollander beater, and changed the process forever. This beater and ones similar are still being used today for hand papermaking. Papermakers have been experimenting with making paper out of plant fibers, usually whatever grows in abundance locally. Artists also began experimenting in the 1960s and 70s with painting and sculpting the paper pulp as they continued to develop custom papers with combinations of fibers for prints. The art of making paper is still honored and enjoyed by many artists around the world, as it creates jobs and preserves the process in developing countries and allows many curious people to try the process through community courses and visiting artist’s studios. The variety of ways you can make paper and then what you can use it for is endless, there are so many creations yet to be discovered and made. Here is a closer look at the entire process, on a larger scale.

The Process

To understand basic steps for making paper, I broke them down into 6 simple steps:

  1. Selecting fiber
  2. Preparing fiber
  3. Beating the fiber into pulp
  4. Sheet forming
  5. Pressing: squeezing out all the water out
  6. Drying

I had to leave out many nuances that other papermakers would surely notice. But for the first time reader, I hope to make sense of the process through these basic steps.

#1) Selecting Fiber

Let’s start with selecting your fiber. The options are; recycled materials (old cotton jeans or rags), plant material (cellulose-grass, stem, or leaf fibers), or half-stuff2 (either plant or recycled material already processed once in a larger factory). Personally, I often use abaca3 half-stuff and incorporate my own local big bluestem grasses since a local touch is important to my personal artistic style.

#2) Preparing Fiber

To prepare the grasses, they are first harvested from a prairie or garden, and then cut down into one inch sections. You must avoid knots and seeds, then set the fibers in large pots of water to boil.

Once the fibers have broken down enough where they can be pulled apart, usually after at least 3 hours of cooking, they are done. They are then rinsed until the water runs clear. If using half-stuff, most varieties just need to soak for a few hours prior to beating.

#3) Beating Fiber Into Pulp

Now it is time for beating, which turns the fibers into pulp. The beater is a machine that is filled with water and when turned on, the fibers are added. The blades are slowly lowered and the fibers undergo fibrillation4 changing from their native shape to microfibers. When the pulp is cloudy, without knots or strands, it is finished. Beating can take anywhere from 3-8 hours.

#4) Sheet Forming

Sheet forming is the most active and demanding step of the paper making. A vat5, which is any sort of basin that’s at least 18” deep and 24” wide, is filled with about 4” of water. I start by adding roughly four quarts of pulp and many pinches of lightly beaten grass, as inclusions that randomly scatter the paper to add interest. With my hands, I stir the fibers in the water, this is called charging the vat.

Next, I dip a mould6 and deckle7 into the vat. The size of the mould and deckle determines the size the sheet of paper will be. Once the vat is charged, I slide the mould and deckle into the moving fibers at an angle and lift it carefully in one fluid motion.

As soon as it leaves the water, keeping it level, I gently, but quickly, move the mould and deckle back and forth and front to back. This helps create an even sheet, as the water drains and the fibers undergo hydrogen bonding8 (weaving together) to form a very strong piece of paper.

When the water stops moving, the fibers stop moving too. This is the most fragile stage for the fibers. If they are tilted too soon, touched or have a water bubble, the sheet will be uneven or have visible indentations. When most of the water has drained out of the fibers through the screen of the mould, I carefully take the deckle off and hold the mould with the fibers at an angle, watching the water drip off the corner. Once there is a pause between drips, it is ready for couching9. This is the stage where I am literally waiting and moving at the pace the water drips.

Layers of wet felt and pellons10 are set up to hold the fibers in place as they are transferred from the mould in the process of couching. Lining the mould up with the edge of the pellon or previous sheet of paper, I roll the mould down and press the fibers onto the pellon. As the mould lifts up, the paper fibers release onto the pellon and the mould is now clear. 

I continue this sheet forming process, adding pulp to the vat every six sheets or so, until all the pulp is gone. Now a stack of pellons and fragile fibers in the form of sheets create many layers ready to be pressed.

#5) Pressing: Squeezing Out All The Water

Sliding the stack of pellons carefully into the press, I pump the press to 2000 pounds of pressure. Water gushes out the sides pouring onto the floor and down the drain. 

After 20 minutes I apply even more pressure, up to 4000 pounds, for 5 minutes. This forces the fibers to hold their bond since most of the water has been removed and be able to be picked up, before it is set to dry.

#6) Drying

Once out of the press, I pull off the layers of pellons one at a time, transferring each sheet of paper to the blotters11 of the drying rack, sandwiched between sheets of cardboard. The cardboard allows air from the fan to move through the stack of paper and blotters as the sheets are forced to dry. About two days later, I come back to the studio to turn off the fans and again, layer by layer, reveal the now dry and finished sheets of paper.

Handmade paper appears to be so delicate with the deckled edges and beautiful textures, when in reality it is some the strongest paper that exists. 

Out my window the rain has now stopped, yet a few drips continue falling from the trees. I like to think about these drips growing the grasses that I will go harvest and bring to the studio to again mix with water to bond with the body and the earth in a new form. So we may communicate as we write to loved ones, on paper, and sit and watch the rain fall into puddles, one drop at a time.

Our Collaboration: Why we chose to make this kind of paper for Cherrico Pottery Patrons

Get this handmade paper Art on Patreon

I made abaca paper with big bluestem and reed canary grass inclusions for this project because it’s a lovely rendition of the common papermaking process and incorporation of local materials. We needed paper to clearly showcase the Cherrico Pottery logo, painted with India Ink by Joel, in a unique way. Abaca is made of the fibers from the stem of the banana plant, typically sourced from the Philippines. It’s a strong and predictable fiber that can be manipulated by how long it is beaten in the process of becoming pulp. The longer it is beaten, the stiffer it dries and even has a shrinking quality. When making larger quantities of paper, we use a fiber source like half-stuff so that the quality of the paper can be consistent over 1000 sheets. But I wanted to incorporate a local material as well, which is why I chose to harvest and include grasses from the prairie two miles from our home. It gives a personal touch and when you look at the paper you can think about the story of that grass and the process of how it got to your hands.

Glossary:

1) pulp: the result of plant fibers being turned into a viscous, cloudy looking slurry.

2) half-stuff: plant material that has been pre-processed in a factory and are purchased from a supplier. They need to be rehydrated before beaten, versus processing the raw plant material. Common “half-stuff” materials are: abaca, cotton linter, hemp, sisal, and flax.

3) abaca: a bast (taken from the inner bark of plants) fiber from the leaf stalk of a type of banana tree found in the Philippines and South America.

4) fibrillation: act of changing the structure of the fiber from its native shape, refining it to delamination and microfibers.

5) vat: a tub or container to hold your slurry of water and pulp.

6) mould: screen surface, similar to a window screen, stretched on a frame.

7) deckle: a second frame with an opening that sits or fits onto the mould, creating edges to hold the fibers.

8) hydrogen bonding: hydrogen & oxygen atoms and water are attracted to each other through similar polar charges and attach like magnets, through the process of bonding, and hold water and the fiber molecules together.

9) couching: the fluid act of transferring the fibers of a sheet of paper from the mould to felts or pellons.

10) pellon: a sheet of non-woven polyester cloth with absorbent qualities to hold and help release the fibers from the mould. Pellons are usually cut to the size of your press so that everything fits together.

11) blotter: a large sheet of processed cotton that is absorbent and acts as a barrier between the paper and the cardboard in the drying process.

Resources:

Notes from my college course in the fall of 2011 at the College of Saint Benedcit/Saint John’s University Art Department

“The Papermaker’s Companion; The Ultimate Guide to Making and Using Handmade Paper” by Helen Hiebert

BONUS: Handmade Paper and Pottery Giveaway, $418 value

Giveaway, no purchase necessary: 2 people will each win one of Sienna Kuhn’s handmade paper Moon Cards ($29 value) paired with one of Joel Cherrico’s “Cosmic Mugs” ($180 value: $165 + $15 S&H average), totally free! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post before 1pm CST March 8th, 2019 responding to the following question:

What is one important thing that you learned about the art of making paper?

Simply leave a comment before 1pm CST Friday 3/8/2019 telling us one important thing you learned from this blog post. The Cherrico Pottery Team will select 2 different people to win. Each winner will get one of Sienna Kuhn’s newest handmade “Moon Cards” ($29 value) paired with  one of Joel Cherrico’s “Cosmic Mugs” ($180 value: $165 + $15 S&H average), shipped almost anywhere globally, totally free!

To enter, you must leave one, genuine comment on this blog post, or the moderator will not approve your comment or include you in the giveaway. Please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Please allow up to 48 hours, or sometimes even a bit longer, for the moderator to approve your comment. Limit one comment entry per person. Void where prohibited, over 21 years of age only. We will pick winner Tuesday 3/12/2019 at the latest (Sienna Kuhn is currently scheduled to choose winners around 1pm Friday 3/8/12 and we will try to make this deadline and announce winners on Facebook Live around 2pm Central that same day) and winners will also be notified via email.

The winners will receive the gifts shipped to them nearly anywhere globally. You can view more details at the Cherrico Pottery Giveaway Policy here or the Cherrico Pottery Terms and Conditions here. If you have any more questions or concerns, or please reach out to Joel Cherrico, anytime at our email here: contact@cherricopottery.com

163 Replies to “The Art of Making Paper”

    1. I was reminded of the intricate connection between nature and the creative processes. Also learned the technical lingo accompanied with the process.

  1. I learned that the fibers used have to undergo hydrogen bonding to form a strong paper, I didn’t know that before!

  2. i learned about incorporating other fibers into it – i never really thought about the artistic aspect of paper making

  3. I love your work. We made paper when I was a kid (homeschooled). I had so much fun doing it but, it was a lot of work

  4. You guys are amazing and make beautiful art. I feel so blessed to own both of yours arts and I want to fill my home with it!!

  5. I learned that there is a machine called the Beater. Very interesting as I did not quite know what the process entailed.

  6. Such talent. The paper an cards I have are Beautiful. Was going to give the cards away, but changed my mind an kept them.

  7. One thing I learned is that paper making finally reached the USA in 1690 brought by a German immigrant.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the entire process of working to make paper by hand. Naively, I had no clue how much work went into it. I also liked being able to feel just how much Sienna loves this and how therapeutic the process is.

  9. “What is one important thing that you learned about the art of making paper?” I learned that it can involve 2000 pounds of pressure!

  10. Wow! I learned that it’s a lot of work and you need to pay attention to the small details to have the paper come out right. It’s so cool that you harvest local grasses to make paper!

  11. Paper is more than just something to write on. It is an art form in and of itself. Making handmade paper allows the creative products of your efforts to become the raw material of yet another’s artistic expression, whether that be a sketch, painting or even a love note.

  12. The appreciation of handmade and locally-sourced art has to come from deep within. I love that you pick the grass and incorporate that into your paper. Holding a piece of it makes you feel like you have a part of another place you may not ever get to see. That’s something to value. Thank you both for what you do.

  13. The history of it we all, I think, take paper for granted. To now have a minor introductory education in not only exactly how far back it goes but that it’s something in its purest form has been sustained for centuries. It’s not something that’s been entirely taken over by automation like so many other things have. There’s a passion, thought , care and intention in the inclusions and moulding of each piece. I also really appreciated how personal it is for Sienna and the experience of it, the process has a history of it’s own for her.

  14. I’ve learned that there is something that can be done with old jeans! I think we’ve probably heard that paper comes from trees, but I’ve learned that it can also come from plants. An interesting process and you’ve done a great job capturing the process through your words and photos!

  15. First off, I wanted to say that your work is absolutely incredible. The process of making paper seems demanding and lengthy, but very worth it. I am so intrigued by this process and that it’s made from banana leaves. I thought the coolest part was that the more you beat it, the stiffer it gets. I guess you do learn something new everyday! Thank you for sharing this, and enlightening all who don’t know the hard work it takes to create something beautiful!

  16. Honestly, when I thought of making paper, I never thought of it as a beautiful art. This blog made me feel the beauty as well as the therapeutic side of it. I didn’t realize the things that could be added to make it more interesting. I appreciate how you made me see how truly mesmerizing a sheet of paper can be.

  17. I learned a couple interesting facts about making paper. I didn’t realize it could be made out of old jeans or rags, which is pretty neat, and I also didn’t know you had to be so careful and move so slow when lifting the mould out of the water during the hydrogen bonding. That is interesting and I imagine takes a lot of concentration. Thank you for the wonderful images and insight to papermaking!

  18. I loved the information you did on the blog, I did not know so much effort went into making paper, I love all the different papers are on the market I wish I could make some myself but don’t have the time

  19. I have a friend that makes paper. It is a long process but the results are awesome. She always said it was important to squeeze out all the water and to make sure you dry it properly.

  20. I truly did not realize you can make paper out of old jeans and rags. It makes a lot of sense knowing they are made from a plant as well. It’s very interesting learning your process for making it. It is a labor of love and care for you just as making pottery is for Joel.

  21. I did not know that handmade paper is stronger than a machine manufactured paper I thought it was weaker because it is so delicate looking.

  22. When making paper one can add the artists own personal touch with local fibers and filler materials. One could collect various materials even throughout their travels to use as ingredients in the pulp. The emotional and molecular chemistry involved in a process that few give a second thought to is quite satisfying to understand. Many thanks 🙏✨💚

    1. I don’t believe I will ever look at paper the same way. What a process! Appreciate the reusing of elements and fibers. Thanks for sharing this informative and inspiring article🌱

  23. The Art of Papermaking is a beautiful expession of your inner love of the process. Wishing you continued success!

  24. What I learned was that it takes a whole lot of patience to make paper of which I have very little of, so I thank God for people like y’all.

  25. I learned about incorporating local grasses to personalize your paper. Love handmade paper because the person your writing to knows you have put thought and care into your note or letter. It makes a simple note make the reciever feel important in your life.

  26. Wow! I learned that the art of paper making has a significant role in making one in tune with Mother Earth. I learned that you have a beautiful spirit definitely in touch with Mother Earth as evidenced by the care and love you obviously contribute to your paper making. And that you can utilize the rain outside as a comparison to paper making supports your strong connection to Mother Nature. When I grow up I want to be just like you!!!!

  27. It’s interesting to learn that you can make paper from old blue-jeans. . . does this mean you get blue paper?

  28. I hadn’t realized that you could incorporate native plant materials into a custom-made paper. A very unique and personalized product!

  29. Thanks for sharing this post and your work! Such a cool and interesting process. You both are an awesome pair and have so much talent!

  30. The dedication and love in every piece is amazing I was gifted a beautiful cosmic mug by a close friend Chris when we stayed at his house in Minnesota and it’s my FAVORITE i kept telling him how becautful his plates and cups were and then he told me about you. I get wrapped up in watching your create pieces some nights and you can see the love you have for your work.

  31. Love that you add local prairie grass to the process of making paper. I used to be a printer and paper came from a paper mill. Thank you for sharing the art side of making paper!

  32. I learned that using half stuff allows for more consistency in making larger quantities of sheets. All in all making paper by hand is an underappreciated art form and I am glad you have chosen to perpetuate it.

  33. The whole process is important, but to me what is important are the beginning and end steps. It means something to be able to collect different plants and fibers from a certain location… hometown or even as places traveled. The beginning is a matter of the heart, what you plan to do with the paper and where it is sourced. The next step, preparing the fibers seems to be the most intimate part and one you cannot cut corners on. This seems like the part I would enjoy most, if given the opportunity. Perhaps this is the most important part? But lastly, allowing the finished product to dry on the blotter is key. I’m not sure one would achieve the same results leaving paper on, say, a granite countertop. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful and beloved art of papermaking. There are a few places I’d love to visit and write about my time there from the material… even postcards to friends and loved ones. Ahh, the endless possibilities… Cheers!

  34. Thank you for sharing your process. It is cool to know the technical terms used in paper making. Abaca… who knew? Sienna did, apparently! Are you able to use the massive amount of snow during the winter months in the boiling prep process? Have you incorporated any of the ash from the nuka iron wood ash gathering?

  35. I really enjoyed the technical explanation of how the paper is made. When people explain things, usually to a layman, they tend to dumb it down and make their words simple. Also, I love that it is possible to use recycled items and add flora from where the paper is created.

  36. I learned about a beautiful process I never knew much about or even existed before! How relaxing and freeing it can make you feel. Also, all of the details it entails and a more in depth look at what making paper consists of. It’s wonderful to find something you enjoy that much. And the fact that her Mom introduced it makes it even more special. And you get a beautiful result. Much like the pottery process. Your unique art. Thank you for sharing.

  37. When I was younger I attended an art magnet school in Ca. We were shown and participated in learning part of the process of paper making (pulp to sheet forming). I still remember pressing the pulp between the moulds and loved the feeling of playing with the pulp, swirling it around in the bucket before placing it in the mould. I don’t remember all the process of getting it to that point, so it was a very interesting read, and I learned that it is a much longer, harder process than I remember. I also didn’t realize how strong it is.
    Thank you for sharing the process, as Joel does with his pottery. This makes it that much more special, and I respect your talent. It is really amazing how it can bring such fond memories of your childhood as well. ♡

  38. I made paper in grade school and had almost completely forgotten about the process. I love the way the texture can change depending on how you press and form it or depending on what fibers you add in. Even aromas being added to give it a customized spin. Thanks for this blog post! 😍

  39. I knew it was a long process, but I didn’t appreciate how long; and the force that is applied to get all the water out! I really like that she incorporates local grasses in her paper.

    I love to write letters, and I love the feel and look of quality paper. I love seeing the fiber of the paper.

    Thank you for taking the time to write about your process. Very interesting.

  40. I loved learning about the vocabulary associated with paper making. As a retired teacher & a vocabulary geek I appreciate the importance and connectivity to other subjects.

  41. #3 the beating process takes 3 to 8 hours to complete, but an item mentioned at the end of the article should be added to #3 that being the longer it is beaten the stiffer the paper will be.

  42. In years past I’ve watch my sister craft paper that she has bound into a book for me to write my thoughts and ad my own personal touches. I’ve always remembered that, and honestly….it wasn’t until reading your article that I thought…I really want to try this too. I feel like I would love the flow and rhythm of watching the paper form. So thank you it was a insightful and educational post for me to read. And has inspired me to try. Glad I sifted through my emails today 🙂

  43. It was interesting to learn about all of the intricate steps involved in the process of paper making and the freedom of expression allowed for the artist. I will forever respect the process and creativity involved when I see handmade paper in the future. Thanks for sharing in such a clean and passionate manner Sienna.

    1. I was very interested in the loving and hard work you put into your paper making. I love looking in antique stores for old sheets of it but never knew how it was made. I was surprised at certain aspects that were similar to other forms of works of art. I make special chocolate and I also mold add flowers shake to level and temper and leave to cool I know this has nothing to do with paper but I think all artists enjoy and are amazed by the love of others works. You make something precious that not many have the talent to make something that others can’t but by keeping that alive you keep the art alive for others like me who love and appreciate your talent. Thank you.

  44. The history and process is absolutely fascinating. I never thought much about the paper making process as it’s always been an industrial process to me. The steps seem so hard yet so rewarding. I love the photo of you and your mom. I learned that it’s a very personalized process and almost meditative. Very calming and rewarding. Having it passed down and carrying on the tradition is beautiful. Thank you for this amazing look behind the scenes.

  45. I’ve always heard that “paper is made from trees,” so I never realized that it could be made from other plants, and even old jeans! So neat!

  46. I learned that many different material can be used to make paper pulp. I didn’t realize that items like old jeans and rags can be used to make paper! That was eye opening. I try very hard to reduce reuse and recycle and reading that warms my heart. I love how environmentally aware you both are. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  47. Short reply here, but to me the most important the history of it all. How we went from cave, wall, ground paintings to eventually paper to record anything and everything that pops into our heads, and how this links us all through the ages.

  48. I learned that beautiful paper is much less beautiful in pulp form—it looks like flavorless oatmeal! I guess we all have humble beginnings… 😜 In all seriousness, I didn’t realize how much pressure it took to make paper. 4000 lbs is a lot!

  49. We tried making paper from only plant material sometime ago, but this clears up many mistakes we made. What I loved about this collaboration with Cherrico Pottery is the small surprises we keep learning and finding of treasures along the way! Some other great info I picked up from the Art of Making Paper blog was 1680-1690 The Hollander Beater chased away a German to Pennsylvania for my chance to enjoy tissue Cosmos. Thank You for sharing your passions and knowledge of arts and culture .
    In Love and grateful for our pieces,
    Thank you,
    Dawn and Stephen Perry

  50. When I was kid, we had a paper mill in our town. We always went to see it for class trips. I always remember the smell.

  51. Beautiful work, Sienna!

    I was surprised to learn that handmade paper is so strong. And what a long process!

  52. I learned that it takes such precision on your part as soon as it comes out of the water, to make an even sheet of paper. Your skill is an integral part of the process therefore making the finished product even more special.
    It’s great that you can make a living from your passion. Also thanks for the history lesson on paper.

  53. Handmade paper appears to be so delicate with the deckled edges and beautiful textures, when in reality it is some the strongest paper that exists. This totally surprised me! We are fortunate to learn new things every day😊

  54. I find this whole process incredible and never actually realized how LONG it takes to make paper; just beating the fibers to get it ready to form paper takes 3-8 hours! Absolutely incredible. I love how therapeutic art making is. Thank you for sharing your passion.

  55. Excellent post. My takeaway was the tie in of the strength of the paper from the fibers, fragments lasting centuries to the nostalgic piece eluding to the strength of the bond/relationship between mother and child. Intentional or not it was pretty symbolic of some of the beautiful things we often take for granted in our everyday lives. Well done.

  56. The process of making paper is a longer than I thought it would be, through all the steps. Its so interesting. I working with mentally disabled adults and they made paper by hand, it was so hard to do, but the paper is really beautiful and super cool. I love learning new things and this is one that I will always remember.

  57. How amazing it is that you are so in tune with what makes you happy. That you watched your mother as a child. It tells a story we all know. Children don’t forget. I cried while reading. Because your passion is clear to me.
    To what I learned, I learned what it means to you, the process is very therapeutic, the time and love it takes to do by hand is what I love. The history is what a lot of people don’t know. I am a person who tries to live off the earth as much as possible, I believe in recycling everything we can, this earth needs saved. This shows how much we as humans need to change. I know there is so many things we can use to make paper, not cut down trees.
    I learned a lot, I did not know how many different things can be used to make paper? Amazing that you use the grass from by your house to put that special touch to your paper making art. Your an amazing artist and a person that others need to learn from, how we need to use things that don’t pollute the earth as much as we can. You inspire a lot of people.
    Thank you for that!

  58. I loved reading about all of it! I didn’t know what all went into paper making. Your work is beautiful!

  59. I didn’t realize the process was so labor-intensive, I love that the paper is some of the strongest in the world even though it looks fragile and delicate.

  60. I learned that you can make paper out of cloth and rags and the art of it is amazing
    I love your work !!

  61. I learned that you can make paper out of cloth and rags and the art of it is amazing
    I love your work !!
    Keep up the awesome work

  62. A friend and I just got turned on to making paper a couple weeks ago. We started off with trying to turn roses into paper. We were half successful and one thing I learned and think we’re missing is some fiber. I never thought jean could be broken down into a pulp and I’m interested in trying the concept with old t-shirts. Thank you for continuing to highlight the art of craft projects like these. It is nice to see someone take responsibility for keeping traditions in art. This and the clay wheel that you had to kick by foot have been my favorite articles.

  63. Handmade paper appears to be so delicate with the deckled edges and beautiful textures, when in reality it is some the strongest paper that exists. I did not know… Love it when we have the opportunity to learn something new every day 😊

  64. How beautiful is paper making! The perfect partner for your Art pottery both made from scratch by hand. Its in the details. My Mom made her own cream colored paper for invitations to a church tea with a simple line sketch of a steaming tea pot cup & saucer. I learned here that it is a process that varies somewhat depending on the use of the paper. You can find the materials locally or through companies. I have some sketch paper made that way, one day I will paint or put my illuminated letters on it. thank you for sharing this with us, now I am getting ideas.

  65. Thanks for sharing the live videos showing how Cosmic Mugs are made. Just watching your live videos makes the stresses of the day fade away. Here’s hoping you never stop doing what you love!

  66. I am truly amazed and completely honored, to have read this entire paper making dory.
    From the beginning of time, as you and your mom worked together at making art from paper, to you dreaming of making your own paper- through the clear rain drops of life.
    From the rain drops that feed our earthly environment and to grow the grasses in the prairies, to you incorporating them into your very delicate, tedious, and enjoyably hard work;
    You bring the love of Mother Nature into the hands of so many. To be able to bring together humans and earth- to be as one; all onto a beautifully crafted handmade dried linen; called paper—- is just absolute infinity of 🌍 this earth.
    You are keeping evolution going.
    I have never in my life -given any thought into the science and beauty of paper making; until I witnessed your beautiful story Sienna.
    Thank you. Thank you for teaching me something ever so beautiful.
    I will forever cherish the paper I have from you (as with Joel’s signature on it). I now have so much appreciation for such an art that was great so many centuries ago – yet evoking continuously through your hands in 2019.
    God Bless you both so very much. You both glow of radiance for your beautiful embankment on re-inventing earths natural ingredients.
    May you both continue sharing your love and passion for this fine balance of bring earth back into our hands.
    God bless.

  67. I loved reading your blog on the process of paper making! It’s something we often times don’t think about, at least for me-I’ve never thought of paper as a form of art but you have taught me that there’s so much more to the process that I originally thought. What you do is beautiful and I can’t wait to learn more from you and Joel.

  68. I’m truly sorry for not proofreading my previous post. My punctuation and spelling were a bit off, but I think you can envision my vision of this story. I keep imagining those rain drops hitting the puddles, ever so softly yet strong.

  69. I’m so intrigued by how long it takes… especially thinking about Japanese paper that is made from all those really hard things like bamboo. That must make the process take even longer. A paper artist must be super patient!

  70. I have to be honest I had no idea how paper was made! I find this art to be exceptionally beautiful and was along for the ride through every step. It makes me want to try it out!

  71. It’s interesting to see the paper itself as art before an artist has created anything with it. It makes the final artwork that much more special.

  72. The one important thing that I learned about the art of making paper is the list of 6 basic steps. As a former potter, I also enjoy doing calligraphy using handmade paper. Thank you for this informative presentation and chance to win awesome gifts from talented artists!

  73. I learned a lot about how much work and time you put into making the paper and how it is much stronger paper. Thank you for the opportunity to learn about how about you do it, and having it as a therapeutic activity.

  74. I Love the passion and love and all the hard work you two put in this beautiful and unique handmade art!
    You both are true inspiration!
    Thanks for sharing

  75. Paper from hemp?! I really love that people can use the Earth’s natural resources to make something not just so useful, but beautiful. I never thought of paper that way.

  76. It was interesting to learn the steps of papermaking, I find it very inspiring to learn more about it and maybe try it myself, I’m not artist but I do enjoy watching and learning and appreciate the working progress of it. Thank you.

  77. When I was younger my Mom would make paper, but we always pressed it down with bricks. I was wondering the cost of the pressing machine you have?

  78. I honestly had no idea there were so many steps to take to make paper. What a fascinating process!! I learned so much reading this blog post. I really enjoyed learning about the history of paper making and how it all began. ❤️❤️

  79. I’m obsessed with recycling so I was excited to learn that you can recycle the fibers from old rags and jeans into paper. I never realized how much work goes into paper making. I love that you incorporate something personal, like the prairie grass close to your home. Thanks for sharing your creative process with us!

  80. I learned soo much about the whole process and history of making paper. It’s extremely fascinating!! Thank you for sharing your amazing art with us. You have inspired me try and make paper with my girls. They are going to love it!!!

  81. It’s so interesting how much work goes into it, that I would never have thought about. So many steps!
    I love how you incorporate the local grass into your paper, it makes it that much more special!

  82. Sienna it’s wonderful that you are so talented and love what you do.
    I didn’t realize how long of a process it is to making paper. Till reading your blog i never gave it a thought about how paper was made. I thought it was made from trees mostly. Didn’t know you could use rags.
    Would love to see you do a Livestream showing the process of paper casting and paper making.
    You said it has a calming effect on you, maybe watching you make it will do the same for us watching.
    Keep up the great work!!

  83. That was an awesome read. I’ve made paper before as a kid. But never thought too much about it. This makes me want to go out and make my own paper. Or buy some homemade paper. Lol

  84. I was fascinated with the concept of making paper when I was a kid. This is an amazing blog post- thoroughly enjoyed it! Thank you.

  85. Very interesting process. I always loved the look and feel of handmade stationary. I always thought the little bits of stuff was just thrown into the pulp never thought or knew it all had to be boiled and softened first. Thank you for sharing.

  86. I knew how to make paper already from visiting a museum with my parents and sisters when I was a teen. However, I didn’t know how one can make it at home or that paper can be made out of cotton recycled from jeans! It makes me want to try and make some, too 🙂

  87. I’ve been wondering how you do this for months Sienna! I could’ve just simply googled it but I’m so glad I didn’t because this blog post was beautiful. Beautifully worded, a beautiful story about your mother, I love it. To pick just one important thing I learned is tough to ask, but thinking about it I guess it would be the fact that you beat the fibers into a pulp. I don’t know how else I thought it was made, because knowing that now it seems like the only logical way, but I found that part really interesting and informative!! I adore the fact that you could use a number of things to make the paper, but often choose to use something local to give it a personal touch. I think that is so beautiful. This whole blog post was beautiful!! I felt touched, intrigued and INSPIRED the whole time reading it. Maybe not inspired to make my own paper per se, just to do more great things with my time!

  88. Interesting to say the least. I had no idea, but love knowing somewhat of the process. Awesome to see you follow your dreams and interest. Enjoy!

  89. That is only takes a few hours to cook down the fibers before beating. I thought it would have taken much longer.

  90. Another exceptional talent!! I learned of paper making from banana plants while i was a young girl growing up in Hawaii. As 6th graders, it was a special art class we could take in school. Paper, who would have thought fabric could also be made out of “pulp” (another thing we learned from that class). Samoans wore their painted artistry. I was captivated by watching those artist paint their final product to wear.
    Sienna, you’re artwork is as therapeutic as it is beautiful. The process and procedures that in the end result is artistry. Definitely not an instant gratification, takes time to create paper, especially when two pieces are never the same. No identical twins in your and Joel’s art ! Blessings for continued success! 🥰

  91. I have always found “paper making” so fascinating! Loved that you gave such detail to the process. That made my understanding of the whole process so much clearer. I would love to try it one day myself! I love your passion for art and creativity!! Your work is so beautiful!!

  92. I have always been fascinated by the art of making paper! I have a dried bridesmaid bouquet saved that I would like to try incorporating into a homemade paper someday – I thought cards made with wedding flowers in the paper would be lovely anniversary gifts. 🙂

  93. this information was really interesting. I love paper too! Paper n pottery are 2 art forms i have always been drawn to.

    8) hydrogen bonding: hydrogen & oxygen atoms and water are attracted to each other through similar polar charges and attach like magnets, through the process of bonding, and hold water and the fiber molecules together.

  94. I didn’t realize the strength of handmade paper. Enjoyed your process description….clear, organized, personal.
    Cute photo of you and your mom!
    Liked Mike Peiffer’s question….so how is color added? (Blog #2)

  95. Lovely! I had little idea how complex the process of paper making was. I love the incorporation of local plants into the product. I must admit, I too was tricked into thinking handmade paper was more delicate due to the intricate detail of the fibers appearance. I’m happy to now know it’s some of the strongest stuff out there! Thank you for sharing.

  96. This article took me back to.when I was a girl.scout and we went to COSI. There they had a paper making station. I remember making it from old newspaper (that is about all I remember besides the screen dipping).
    I never actually realized homemade paper is so strong.
    I would love to take my hands on it and attempt it. In the process teach my children ( love the image with your mom and you).

  97. I really enjoyed reading about the whole process of making paper, and love both of your work and hope to own some soon 😁

  98. Hello,
    I used to make paper at my primary school when i was younger, and this post made me remember it. We began the process with the pulp already prepared for us. We would use wooden molds with a kind of screen/strainer that would let the water go through. Then we would pressed a bit of the water out by hand, and pass it through a mangle (I think). Anyway it looked like an old laundry machine used to get the water out of clothes. We would then let the pieces of paper dry on huge cylinders.
    Something I learned is that handmade paper looks so delicate and fragile, but that it’s one of the strongest paper there is!

    Thanks for the blog post!

  99. I did not know paper could be made from grasses. It sounds like such a delicate and involved process, but your end results are simply beautiful.
    And of course the pottery is always gorgeous.

  100. Wow! I had no idea that the process of making paper was so long, in depth and difficult. Imagine doing it all by hand with no machines! I love the look of handmade paper more than the typical bleached out paper of today. So much more character. Thanks for posting!

  101. What I like about the art is that (besides the art itself) is that the art is being made from recycled jeans, which needs to be done more to reduce waste in the landfill.

  102. I was interested to learn that when drying, the individual fibers undergo hydrogen bonding and weave together to form a strong singular sheet. Thanks for sharing your process.

  103. My mom use to hand make recycled paper sometimes when I was young. I’ve never seen a beater machine.. my mom would use the food processor! It’s great to learn the terms used to make paper.. it really is something I would like to try myself!

  104. This was a wonderful article. Thank you so much for writing it. I’ve tried very basic papermaking and have a healthy respect for your skill and dedication to the art. I very much enjoyed learning the vocabulary as explained and process used to create your craft.

  105. I learned that this type of paper making leads to the strongest type of paper. I recently attended a local art museum (Paducah, KY) that had several handmade books for their current exhibit. It’s true that the paper looks delicate, but feels so hardy.

  106. Thank you for sharing! One of my grade school teachers showed our class how to make paper in a very primitive manner, I thought it was beautiful and imagined writing on it with a quill and ink and I love the textured edges of the paper! In this digital age our youth are not as readily exposed to the art of paper making or the art of writing for that matter. I love the use of Abaca and the local grasses to make the paper more personal, as well as recycling of half-stuff. Another art form I love that pairs well with paper making is wax sealing! Very therapeutic and beautiful results!

  107. I didn’t know you can use material like recycled jeans to make paper. That’s very interesting. The whole process is.

  108. Thank you for this post, the process is long but in the end a true piece of art is made. I teach my scouts the pulp and paper merit badge, I will definitely be saving this to have them read about your process. Thank you again and beautiful work!

  109. I tried making paper years ago but only a one time thing at a craft group. It’s interesting to know all the explanation of the terms and the whole process. Drying the paper with a fan on blotters separates by cardboard is much faster than ours laying on a screen was. Thanks for sharing your craft.

  110. What a beautifully written post on the art of paper making. I remember as a child my Great Aunt making paper. I was fascinated watching her and the others work, I was even allowed to touch the wet felt. Sadly she passed away not long after and I didn’t really get to watch it again well… Till now, *squealing for joy*. I have been so excited to read all about this and I really hope that we will get to watch you work, ah to have those memories again would be thrilling. I knew that it was a lot of work to make paper but reading your post it has helped me to better understand the process. Thank you for the memories and please consider doing many videos because I will be watching! Thank you so much. Big hugs!!

  111. Fascinating article! I learned the actual definition of PULP, a common term I had totally misunderstood before.

  112. That’s pretty neat, although it is more like a fabric than a paper because it it so thick and fibery. I would probably use it more a fabric application.

  113. I did not know that so many piecemeal things come together to form the paper. That is, you had to form the shape with the pulp and then add layers accordingly. In my ignorant mind, I always thought it was a single layer. Knowing that your paper is made up of so many different, individual components makes it even more special.

  114. What a fascinating process! I love the delicate look of hand made paper. I had no idea it took 2000-4000 pounds of pressure to press the sheets! Thank you for sharing.

  115. As i read this, how you “feel” the process, i know that feeling as a musician. I also used to work for a local papermill so i am familiar with how big industry does it, but doing it your way is so much more beautiful and each piece is unique (just like Joel’s pottery). You put heart and soul into that individual piece of paper. I was so used to seeing the paper on big rolls laid down on the Cutsize line to cut and make into reams of paper, but to hear how each piece you make has thought behind it, only word i can describe is just beautiful. Thank you, Sienna and also Joel for letting us into your passion for art. It is truly enjoyable to watch and learn and read about.

  116. Read the whole piece and found it to be very informative. What I learned about making paper is that it is a very long process. I never knew you could use material to make paper.
    I also learned that you can make paper to be very personable. I Love the passions you both bring to this world. I will never look at paper the same. I will always remember all the labor and love that went into each and every piece of paper.

  117. Reading all the story about paper I learned that you can use
    T-Shirts or other clothes to make paper. I also learned paper marking is a very labor intensive process. It takes a lot of passion and love. I will never look at paper the same way.

  118. Wow! I had no idea how much work went into making handmade paper. It really is an art form and I love how you add a personal touch by adding the grasses from a prairie near your home. I always thought that handmade paper would be delicate, but today I learned how strong it really is. Thank you for sharing your story and the process of making handmade paper.

  119. I love the passion that is evident in your writing!
    I learned that paper making is a beautiful art form, and I love how the process is not hurried like so much of our daily lives. A local art center offered paper making class, but it was not anything like this. They just had us use ripped up construction paper and mix in glitter. Sadly the results were lumpy and the paper was weak and fell apart. This post makes me want to consider trying this art again. Thank you for sharing your passions with us!

  120. I wish to inspire others the way y’all do everyday.thank you both for sharing what you do with all of us. Y’all keep inspiring everyone everyday!

  121. Thank you for writing a great post! I remember my school taking us to a paper making factory and it was eye opening. Using a piece of paper every day we didn’t think twice about how it was made or how it changed history. Paper becoming a means of communication, education, spreading religion and creation of art changed and help advance society. What is the most important thing about the art of making paper? In my opinion is the choice of different fibres. Each country made their own paper from different types of fibres. Which consequently each had different textures and characteristics that can be observed and studied through historical art pieces.

  122. Making paper seems very much a labour of love. I remember making it in high school, and loving the end result. One important thing I learned from your article was “when the water stops moving the fibres stop moving and that’s when it’s the most fragile”. I do remember that, our teacher said no matter what don’t touch it, it will dent.

  123. I use to take paper for granted, not knowing the entire back store can make a person do that. I learned that paper, an everyday used material which you would think is useless, is in all reality a piece of art. The fact that paper can be homemade should inspire others to be unique artists. I’m just blown away by this, it puts even the littest things into perspective. Congratulations to the both of you. I’m happy for the success that the both of you have.

  124. Love this I once made bookmakers out of paper for my in laws 50th Anniversary goodies, I put real seeds in so they could plant them

  125. I was touched by the eloquence of your vernacular. I found it interesting that handmade paper is stronger than mass produced paper; though not surprised upon reflection. I very much desire to make my own paper!

  126. I too find working with my hands to create items very therapeutic. I do not create for my career but to work thru bad days living with a chronic illness. There is just a calming of the mind that happens. I adore the memories you shared with your Mom that came full circle as you turn into adulthood. So sweet precious memories that will live on in your craft. Thank you for sharing. ♡

    R~

  127. I wanted to comment although I know the contest is over, it’s not about that, I wanted to say wow…just wow…I only recently discovered Joel’s art which of course lead me to yours as well. I honestly have to say that is the most important and passionate thing about the whole process…the YOU in it…you have a passion instilled from a young age and have been blessed enough to watch that bloom and it seems not only did it start with family and love but also now you still instill that with your family and love now with Joel. I find that poetically beautiful. Perfect harmony. Never stop letting the beauty out!

  128. I Love the Love that you and Joel carry ,and spread to others..please enter me!💚many thanks and hearts ur way also💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚🎉🎉

  129. Sienna, I just finally took the time (I know… I am so late! I have been such a long time fan of both you and Joel that I should have read this when you first posted it.) to read this incredible Journey of the making of paper! I am ashamed that I have taken paper for granted all of these years. While reading, I would have to say that the 4000 pounds of pressure is what truly shocked me the most. Then, when you went on to say the strength of the paper- that really made sense.

    I have to tell you a story. I was born hearing impaired. My family could not afford hearing aids, so I learned to read lips. As I aged, my hearing worsened. Then, about two years ago I knew it was time that I had to address my hearing in order to keep working as a Child Protection Caseworker. I was able to get hearing aids through a program. On the day the Audiologist put them in my ears and activated them, she started to talk and shuffle paper while facing away from me. I began to cry. Then she began to cry as I described to her that I did not know paper made noise. She crumpled a piece of paper and I nearly came out of my chair! Of course she went on to show me other things, but paper was the first thing I experienced with true hearing. Thank you for preserving such a sacred art. I am so happy you and your gorgeous mother shared such a beautiful art.

    The first time you and Joel offered the framed Cherrico Pottery Paper signs, I bought one! I also have a few of your cards. I will protect them, as I do my other Cherrico treasures.

    Be safe and enjoy life. Remember to listen to the paper too 😉

    Blessings~

    Lana

  130. I know its too late but thats ok. I just think what you and your husband do together is amazing. I think that these skills are something that should be passed down. Ive always wondered about the paper making process only knowing bits and peices myself. I really got into papyrus when I was younger. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  131. I loved reading about this process. I’m very late but I don’t care. I found the writing very informative and interesting. You and your husband are very talented. I wish you both continued success.

  132. Fascinating process. Learned something new by reading your article. I’m glad you were able to begin your paper journey with your mother and develop that love.

  133. I have collected hand made cards for many years to support the artists. Now that I am older, I am sending them to friends and family. Your process is very interesting and learning the terminology is fun. I am so happy for you that you are doing what you love.

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