Thursday, May 5, 2016

pulp painting

Papermaking is one of the many things I have tried my hand at in the past few months at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (PAAC). And then a few weeks back Gretchen Schermerhorn (Artistic Director at PAAC) introduced me to pulp painting, a technique that involves the use of coloured paper pulp on damp handmade base sheets.

For pulp painting you need two things: pulp paint and base sheets. The first is your medium, the second is the surface you paint on. Pulp paint is very fine pulp that is made by beating fibers in a Hollander beater for a few hours before adding pigments. You also add something called formation aid that helps with better flow and bonding.

For the base sheets, I used abaca fibers that I beat for a couple hours. I then used a mould and deckle (a wooden frame with a screen and another frame that sits on the mould to hold the pulp) to make sheets, which you then couch on a damp pellon (polyester sheet). You build layers of sheets and pellons to create a post, which then goes into a hydraulic press to remove excess water. (If you want to know more about how paper is made, you can check out a cool video on papermaking and a glossary of common papermaking definitions here.)

You 'paint' by pouring pulp paint on the base sheet in layers. It's a lovely loose way of painting since the pulp paint is quite watery. You can also create specific shapes by making pellon stencils. You can be Pollockesque or Frankenthaleresque or (even better) do your own thing. The basic idea is that the pulp paint sits on the surface of the base sheet, layer after layer, and then fuses with it. Once you are done painting, you put all the sheets in the hydraulic press to get the excess water out. The last stage is putting these sheets in the drying box.

Below are some of my pulp paintings experiments. More to come for sure.

silent conversations
pulp paint on handmade paper, 17x22" 2016

pulp paint on handmade paper, 15x18" 2016
degrees of separation
pulp paint on handmade paper, 17x22" 2016

pulp paint on handmade paper, 18x15" 2016