Thursday, July 4, 2013

Making Paper

On Independence Day, it is fun to remember that paper played a role in the American Revolution. Boston's Liberty Paper Mill, founded in 1770 by Stephen Crane, provided the paper to Paul Revere to print the colonies first paper money.

Later, Crane's son moved west to Dalton Massachussets to open his own paper company. So a visit to the Crane Museum was on my list of things to see while we were in the Berkshires. The museum features scale models to show each of the steps that were involved in making paper in the 19th century.

Cotton rags collected for paper makingIn 1801, when Zenas Crane launched Crane and Company, almost all of the fiber used for paper came from discarded cotton and linen rags. So the first step in paper making is collecting and sorting the rags.

Scale model of a Hollander BeaterThis is a scale model of a Hollander Beater. The beater would tear apart the rags and break them down into individual cotton or linen fibers.
Mixing chest for mixing paper slurryThe fibers are mixed with water and additives to form a slurry of rag pulp. The tanks where the mixing takes place are called chests.
Vatman dipping a mould into a slurry of cotton fibersThe Vatman dips his mould, a framed wire screen, into a vat of pulp. He lifts the mould out of the pulp and shakes it to drain off excess water. The pulp that remains in the screen forms a moist sheet of paper.

Coucher dumping paper form wire to feltThe Coucher turns the mould over so the damp sheet of paper adheres to a piece of wool felt. He returns the mould to the Vatman.
Layboy separating sheets from feltThe Layboy separates the sheets from the felt and stacks the paper into sets of 144, a quantity referred to as a "post."

Press for making sheets of paperEach post of 144 sheets is pressed to squeeze out any remaining moisture

Today, paper is made in rolls on machines that do these same steps in a continuous process. The paper is cut into sheets afterward.

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The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.