Dewatering and Sizing

handmade paper drying

Hello!   Received your kit today and am excited to get started…..first I have 2 questions.

1.  Does it matter what kind of material I use on top of the pulp when I am pressing out the water?

2.  I am hoping to use the paper for watercolor…therefore I need to add some sizing……what do you recommend?

Thanks for your help. Best, Laura

Hello, Laura!

Arnold Grummer’s Papermaking kits come with a black screen. This can be laid atop your freshly formed sheet and a sponge applied to remove much of the water from the formed pulp. Then the paper can be transferred to a couch sheet which will absorb more water as seen in the picture above and to the right. Another couch sheet is placed on top and a pressing action with you hand or a level bar (also included in the kit) will draw more water out of the sheet. In theory, any absorbent material should work. Whether it’s a sponge or a paper towel, the water will travel from the wet pulp into the dry material. We suggest the black screen and sponge method so as not to disturb the surface of your sheet. However, we’ve heard of people using cloth towels, newspapers, and even wool blankets! Have fun and experiment to see what method results in a paper you like the look of!

You will be using your handmade paper for watercolor. That’s excellent! It will be great to see what you make. You are absolutely right that your paper will need some sort of sizing. Sizing increases paper’s resistance to water, allowing the paint or ink to remain on the surface of the sheet instead of spreading and leaking through to the other side.

You have many options for sizing. One is to dip your paper in a solution of warm, dissolved gelatin. Dissolve seven packs of plain gelatin in two quarts of water. Let it sit for ten minutes then warm it up. Pour the gelatin into a shallow tray, dip your paper in, and then hang to dry (pictured above). Another option is to paint the gelatin onto your paper surface. Either will work!

A second option is to recycle a bit of paper that already has sizing in it. You can add it right to your paper pulp. The sizing chemicals will transfer to your new paper. Some papers that work well for this would be scraps of old watercolor paper, writing paper, or paper meant for markers.

Hope this helps. Happy Papermaking!


3 thoughts on “Dewatering and Sizing

    1. Hi Thomas,

      That sounds like a fine place to start. Newspaper is made of fibers that have been recycled 7 times on average. Adding cotton linter will certainly add strength to your new sheets. You can adjust the ratio of cotton linter to newspaper until you achieve the strength you’re looking for.

      Kim Grummer

  1. Hey. If I dont have sizing can I mix printed recycled paper with cotton pulp? Would it guarantee to not absorb the ink or prints after the paper is ready

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *