Paper making with newspaper pulp

This experiment looked at the potential of making paper from pulped newspaper (with the future intention of purchasing it from the village shop) to add a contemporary reference to the milk drawings. An A3 wire mesh was purchased and two wooden frames were made to provide a template for making the paper. Having watched a tutorial I set to work making paper using several techniques. Paper was torn into small strips and the paper was liquidised for 30 seconds. The pulp was poured on to the mesh and allowed to settle evenly. A second piece of mesh was then used to compact the pulp and remove as much water as possible. The wet paper was then transferred to a cloth and allowed to sun dry. The pieces were placed in a cool oven to completely harden them.

The video below show the three paper sheets produced using different techniques and compares their texture and form.

The gnarled and rough appearance of the paper is appealing and I think the pure white paper with minor newspaper additions would be the most successful. Selected clippings from a locally bought newspaper could be embedded in the made paper, even bold key words or images. The example below was a Covid 19 image (how contemporary!) torn out and laid on the wet pulp then dried. Clearly it is possible to embed specific imagery and text to the handmade paper.

A number of considerations have arisen following this experiment which we consider below.

Firstly, how suitable a surface is the paper for painting on and would the detail of a milk drawing be lost on it due to the roughness of the appearance. Also, are we diluting the strength of the drawings by using this hand made paper and would a stronger message be achieved by using only one idea, i.e. the milk drawings on manufactured paper or hand made paper with added newsprint of relevant.

The second consideration is whether this hand made paper is also too similar a concept to the last experiment (the incendiary bombs made from paper mache). With the paper mache objects being on the walls and roof of the installation we are now adding more objects made from newsprint for the paintings. Does this deliver enough of a contrast in ideas or are we softening the strength of the message?

Paper mache is a child-like activity which does have a strong link to our theme of childhood trauma and I do find the idea of a child making incendiary bombs using paper mache quite compelling! The intention of the milk drawings was to show the hidden consequences of childhood trauma so are we saying that these need to have a more ‘aloof’ appearance? So a more professional insight into the mind of a child? If that’s the case then the medium we use may have to be more formal, straight-edged and certainly less child-like.

The next stage is probably to bring both ideas together and see how they compare and interact and decide on the most intriguing combination.

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