A lot of our time is spent making handmade paper objects. While some of these objects look pretty good by themselves, we think they have a bigger impact as part of groups. The gallery below follow a piece of "inventory" from creation to being part of those ensembles. Please see our blog for a couple of other examples.
The object below is a “puffer” in which lightly beaten cotton pieces seem to puff up when dry. The ochre ground is abaca beaten 6 hours. It shrinks a good bit (maybe 30%) by itself. However, if you lay shapes of 75 minute cotton linters on top which is a low or no shrinkage fiber, the abaca covered is much constrained. The tension between these high and low shrinkage areas make the low shrink area puff out to accommodate the high shrinkage going on around it.
This puffer is shown as part of several works on How we work.
Photo 1 shows the irregular ground shape ochre abaca sheets that we decided on. Next is a simple thick sheet of freshly pulled cotton broken into shapes while still on the mold. These shapes are then lightly pressed still on the mold and then couched individually - and carefully - onto small pieces of pellon held in a hand. If the shape is small enough, we’ll “couch” it directly onto the hand. Then you can just quick flip it onto the piece like flipping burgers.
In photo 3, Barbara is “couching” a shape from pellon to background. Once we had the shapes in place, we blotted them again with a large piece of pellon. We liked the light coming through the wet parts of the pellon as we peeled it away so we include it here even though it shows our dye still running a little bit.
As shown by the sheen in photo 6, we slathered on the methyl cellulose, a reversible glue, that will help strengthen the bonding of the abaca and cotton. We left it overnight. It finished drying quite quickly the next day in the hot summer sun. We tend to compose with the colored cotton facing outward, but the sheet is beautiful on both sides. The concavities are etched and more dramatic than the “puffed” side.
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