How to Add Texture to Handmade Paper

By Arnold Grummer

How To Make Paper: Create Textured Paper


Draw your finger tips over the surface of a sheet of paper. You will feel something. That is texture.

The surface will feel rough or smooth, fine or coarse, soft or hard.

Equally or maybe more important is what you experience when the sheet's surface is scanned by your eyes. Their verdict will probably match that of your fingers. They might see very finely marked weaving of delicate line impressions. They might see simply "blah". They might see really coarse ribbing, or random unevenness.

Both your fingers and eyes will tell you they do, or do not, like this.

Test this. Go to the paper section of any craft store. If you are a distant relative of Sherlock Holmes, take along a small magnifying glass. Notice the surface textures of the different sheets. If you have certifiably clean finger tips, run one sparingly over a bit of paper surface here and there. Some papers will be heavily textured. Some will have very little texture.

For an even greater experience, check the wall paper of every house you are ever in. Run (clean) finger tips over the wall paper of every room. To many houses, this might limit your visits to just one. Wall paper often has a marked texture.

Find a texture you like? You can put it on your hand made paper’s surface.


Lay a Wet Sheet on BurlapLay a wet sheet on burlap

It is quite easy to control your handmade sheet’s surface. The opportunity exists at the moment the sheet has been formed on the papermaking screen and is maximally wet.


When a sheet is maximally wet, the bond between individual fibers is weak. This means fibers have some mobility, and will move in response to any pressure placed upon them.

 Burlap ‘on’ and ‘in’ the paperBurlap "on" and "in" the paper

A textured surface placed on the wet sheet will move individual fibers into complete conformity with the applied texture surface, whether it’s a board, floor tile, or piece of cloth. It is quite easy to give your handmade paper that texture.

 Linen paperLinen Paper

So, if you want ‘linen’ paper, get a linen fabric from your fabric store.


Pillow CasePillow Case

For more marked texture, try a burlap. Consider a woven placemat, or a throw away item such as potato sack netting.


Wire MeshWire Mesh

Look at the backs of floor tiles – some quite amazing patterns are there.


Rubber MatRubber Mat

Here’s the simple procedure:

1. Find a surface texture that you like.
2. Form a sheet of paper.
3. Remove the paper making screen with new sheet from the hand mold.
4. Take the textured surface you have selected and place it on top of the new sheet.
5. Leave the textured surface on the sheet through all the subsequent steps of water removal, pressing and drying. Slow drying under pressure is better than heat drying. The texture you have selected will be firmly implanted on your sheet's surface.

My favorite is a piece of old bed sheeting that transmits its fine weave to my handmade paper's surface. It is elegant, both a visual and tactile pleasure.

Remarkable textures can also develop from air drying. Here the newly formed sheet on the papermaking screen is removed from the hand mold. The sheet, on the screen, is placed somewhere and left to dry. Shrinkage forces working across the sheet will create often a ruggedly beautiful surface texture.

The world of texture is wild and wonderful. Try it.


textured airdry bell
Learn More:


Check Out: Arnold Grummer's Complete Guide to Easy Papermaking, pg. 98 and 102

How To Make Paper: Create Textured Paper

Q&A: The cover screen leaves a pattern on my paper. What can I do to avoid this?