The afternoon lecture was given by Clifford Burt from RK Burt & Company who have been London paper suppliers since 1892. He was congratulated at the end of his talk for making a ‘dry’ story so interesting and full of humour.
Clifford based his talk on explaining the manufacture and history of paper making, both fine art papers through to newsprint. His talk was full of the facts and myths of paper making.
15 facts on papers and paper making
1. Paper Making: Start of process there is 97% water 3% material, by the finish the transformation is complete and there is 3% water and 97% material.
2. Differences between the hand mould and cylinder mould methods are in the procedure and the speed of production.
3. Handmade papers made on a wooden or bamboo frame (Hand mould) by traditional methods result in papers with attractive uneven (deckle) edges and vary often with the imprint of the mesh on the paper giving a ‘laid’ pattern.
4. Cylinder Mould: the density of pulp and speed of the machines rotating cylinders affects the weight of the final paper product. The paper is pulled off the wires to felts and the drying section. The use of naturally woven felts affects the final surface of the fine art papers.
5. Drying the papers: steam is pumped through rotating cylinders to evaporate moisture from the paper. The rate of rotation vary and alter the rough or smoothness of the paper. The rate of rotation plus no heat in the process results in the medium textured surface Cold Pressed (or NOT, as in Not Hot Pressed).
6. Artist quality papers which are 100% Cotton forms less than 10,000 tons annually of the entire paper industry but this high quality paper loved by artists keeps the industry alive.
7. Cotton Linters: the shorter fibres from the seeds of the cotton plant are too short for the clothes industry but these short fibres translate to long fibres in beautiful papers. Rags, linen, old clothing were used to make 100% Rag paper, but these can no longer be used due to the introduction of man-made fibres in clothing.
8. Wood Free Pulp does contain wood! The term is used to show that it has been chemically treated to take out the lignin.
9. Mechanical pulp contains lignin and will yellow and deteriorate over a short time. You only have to look at old newspapers to see the process.
10. Additives to Paper: papers absorb atmosphere and additives are used to help to protect them. Calcium Carbonate (chalk) is added to watercolour paper; papers are buffered to protect the surface; Titanium Dioxide is sometimes added to create whiteness and Optical Brightening agents - Persilicates (origin of Persil washing powder!) are used for whiteness.
11. Sizing: is critical to how paper works. Gelatine or starch is used to repel/control water. It is used internally, externally or sometimes both depending upon the type of paper use: watercolour, printmaking, embossing etc.
12. Watermarks were invented by Fabriano in 1296 by using embroidery fixed to wire mesh which resulted in a recognisable embossed mark.
13. Coloured paper: Light fastness of coloured paper. Coloured paper will generally fade over time but those papers made with pigments (Canson Mi Tientes) rather than dyes are more light fast.
14. Paper storage tips for artists: plastic bags or plastic portfolios protect paper from the atmosphere. For example if you live in Cornwall your atmosphere pH will be easy on your paper. The closer to London you live the more acidic the atmosphere and the more dirty your papers will become if left to absorb this atmosphere.
15. How to stretch paper: many artists put paper in the bath before taping their paper to a board. Remember that any detergent residue destroys the sizing of your paper so that it will be damaged and react differently to paint. The best method is to hold your paper under tap, avoid fingers and keep conditions as sterile as possible.
Clifford finished his fact filled talk with a question and answer session which participants enjoyed, he was asked several memorable questions but his one word retort to the following caused good humoured amusement and brought the session to its end.
"I use wallpaper roll for my rough work - what sort of paper is that?" artist.
"Rubbish", replied Clifford.
CLAS Regional day in Cheltenham was a resounding success for everyone involved and Pegasus Art would like to thank everyone for allowing us to attend, we learnt a lot!