Tutorial: Making a Paper Mould
These are the resources you will need in order to make a paper mould:
  • 1"x1" lumber, 2 pieces 6" long, 2 pieces 11" long
  • staple gun and staples
  • aluminum window screening, at least 8"x11" in size
  • four screws
  • wood glue
  • duct tape

I had to retape my paper mould today, so I took a few photos of the mould to give you an idea of how to make one yourself. There are plenty of commercial papermaking kits for sale, if you don't want to make your own. Arnold Grummer's kits are very good. The technique for papermaking with the commercial kits is a little different than the one I demonstrate here with my handmade moulds. I learned on the handmade moulds, so it's still my preferred method.)

Excuse the paper pulp that has built up under the screen; if you put in extra staples closer to the inside edge, the screen will fit tighter on the frame and pulp won't be able to sneak underneath as much as it did here.

So you can see it's basically four pieces of 1"x1" wood, nailed at the corners, so that the inside dimension is the size of the paper you want to make. The mould pictured here measures 6"x9", so that means two pieces that are 6" long, and two pieces that are 11" long. Aluminum screening can be purchased in bulk at a Home Depot-type store, and then cut to size as you need it. Make sure you use aluminum screening, so that it doesn't rust or sag. Nylon window screening is too flexible for this job. Don't use it; it will sag immediately and your paper will crease when you press it out onto the shop cloth. The aluminum screening is staple gunned onto the wood, and you can see that in the photo at left.

Paper pulp is very sticky. We need to put a border on the mould that is smooth and will give the handmade paper a feathery edge because the paper can't stick to the border. We use duct tape to make that smooth border. Tape over the stapled side, covering only up to the inside wood border. Don't cover more of the screen than that, or else your finished piece of paper won't be 6"x9" (or whatever size you were trying to make). Also, you don't want to expose the sticky portion of the tape to water, so extending the tape past the wood frame is a bad idea for that reason, too.
Take extra care to run your fingers hard over the duct tape, so that you can see the outline of the staples and the screening through the tape. That's done to keep the sticky part of the tape from being exposed to water. Otherwise you'll find the tape losing its stickiness and start lifting off the mould when it gets wet, and you'll have to pull it off and retape it. That's why I had to retape this mould; I didn't make sure it was taped securely before I used it.

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Contact: Donna Albino