A couple of months ago my friend Frank said, "You'll feel much better once you start making paper again." I wasn't convinced, but got started cutting down rags anyways in preparation. Last week I spent about seven days elbow-deep in a vat of pulp, and loved every minute of it. Frank was right - I'm feeling much better, and two years is just too long to go without making paper! I ended the first session with about eighty sheets of 11x17, forty sheets of 16x20, and forty sheets of 18x24, all made from cotton rag foraged from West Asheville thrift stores. I spent one last weekend making a cotton/abaca blend, and finished with about eighty sheets of 18x24 as well. Here's just half of the finished stack (the other half is still in the stack dryer):
We're exchanging ideas now about creating our own 'micro-pulpery', following the tradition of Asheville's famous micro-breweries, and going into paper production on a small-ish scale. I want to create a 'seasonal menu' of papers for sale, based on what we find at the thrift stores, and once that paper is sold out, it's unlikely that you'll see another stack of paper that excaly the same on our shelves. Hopefully we'll have a small sampling of this ready at the upcoming BookOpolis in September.
Once I finished the big stack of papers, I got to work on a commission: a giant book, made for Dragonfly Forest, an organizational that helps kids with physical disabilities and serious illnesses have a fun night of camping out. This will be a record book for the kids, so it needed to be BIG, bright, easy to clean, and tough. I actually had to talk them down from a 2' x 3' book to this one that's 18" x 24", a size that can be reasonably handled and not fall apart. It also turned out to be quite heavy, so I hope they weren't planning on carrying this book around on their camping trips!