Paper is made from plant fibers which have been cooked, rinsed and beaten. Individual sheets are made one at a time.
Handmade paper was invented in China in 105 AD. For many centuries it was a secret craft, but paper making knowledge eventually made it through the Silk trade routes to India, Egypt and finally Europe. Paper became popular in Europe after the invention of the Gutenberg press, as a cheap (compared to vellum and parchment which were animal skins) ground for printing. Plant fibers were used to produce clothing (cotton and linen--from flax). When clothing was no longer serviceable it would be sold to the "rag man" who would in turn sell it to the paper mills. During the American Civil War, rags were used as bandages and there became a shortage for the paper industry. Other plant fibers were experimented with, and wood pulp (from plentiful trees) became widely used.
Handmade paper is created today the same way it has been created for centuries. Plant fibers are gathered, cooked and beaten to create "pulp". Pulp is added to water to create "slurry". To form a sheet of paper, a mould (screen) and deckle (frame) is dipped into slurry (80% water/20% pulp). Fibers rest on the screen as the new sheet is pulled out of the water. The new sheet is turned onto a felt (non cellulose fabric) and pressed and dried.
I made my first sheets of handmade paper in 1986, and immediately fell in love the the pulp and process. In 1993, I began Bear Creek Paperworks which was named for the creek which runs near my home. My artist/photographer husband, Peter Anger, and I live in the house I grew up in with our seven happy kitties.
Although I enjoy many fiber arts, I consider myself primarily a papermaker. I am especially interested in the ability of a wet sheet of newly formed paper to take and hold the textures of found objects. Any interesting texture is fair game. Upon close inspection, you may find impressions of lace, bubble wrap, plastic netting, or buttons in the handmade paper on my vessels. I weave reed basket forms as armatures for my handmade papers.