Saturday, October 3, 2009
- The Mother of Invention: Making paper
Time remained elusive, even after I left Colonial Williamsburg. Becoming a school librarian in 1997 promised to open up some free time in the summer, but between moving to Windsor Forest, chauffeuring teenage daughters, and hosting Friday night suppers, creative time got short shrift. Likewise, the summer of 2003 looked like it had potential, with both girls finally graduated from high school and relatively independent, but the Eastern Virginia Writing Project got the nod and the time. And the independence proved illusory, as Meghan ended up spending the summer recovering from two broken wrists.
Fast forward to 2009 and early retirement from teaching in Virginia … 17 years after first getting the notion, I finally found the time to try out papermaking. Not content to follow one recipe (why start now?), I checked out every book I could find in the Wimberley Village Library and the San Marcos Public Library, then gave myself the challenge of making paper using only those materials I had on hand … no purchases allowed.
Rummaging through boxes in the garage, I eventually found the food processor that my cousin Glad had given me at Robin Acre last year. A repurposed hamper stuffed with needlework supplies for the move to Texas yielded screens from a children’s papermaking set (probably of 1992 vintage), thick cotton yarns, and old threadbare table linens. The office produced an array of paper, including linen envelopes purchased for mailing resumes some time back. Containers and placemats from the pantry filled out the list, and I was ready to go.
My first attempt at making paper resulted in a fuzzy white cloud of linen, more notable for its holes than any resemblance to paper. I did a little better with combining blue cotton yarn and torn up envelopes, but the resulting paper was paler and thinner than I had hoped. I went back to the drawing board.