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Paper Crafting: Skills and Technique

Lesson 1 of 22

How to Make Your Own Paper - Part 1

Robert Mahar

Paper Crafting: Skills and Technique

Robert Mahar

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Lesson Info

1. How to Make Your Own Paper - Part 1

Lesson Info

How to Make Your Own Paper - Part 1

I am so pleased to be here today. Thank you so much for joining us. I have to tell you that this paper craft in class is really the culmination of several months of conversations and planning and designing and researching and sourcing products. And I honestly could not be happier with how it has all come together. I teach a lot of in person workshops and what's going to be happening today and tomorrow is at least eight great workshops all condensed into the course of two days. So there's a lot of great information to share with you s o I want to start by extending a warm welcome to our online audience who are joining us around the globe today. Thank you so much for being here with us and and especially warm. Welcome to our in studio audience the's for creative souls are about to go on a very crafty marathon with me over the course of the next two days on dh all centered around the very versatile, very malleable, chameleon like material of paper. And I want to talk a little bit more abo...

ut that in a moment. But first, just by way of introduction to help us get to know each other a little bit better, I want to tell you a little bit about my background and how it is that I've ended up here today. I am sure that like many of you, I was a crafty kid, I was the artist in the family and I was also the one that would much rather stay indoors and bake shrinky dinks and we've potholders on a loom, then run around in the backyard and honestly that's a sentiment that holds true today, I occasionally have to do a little gratitude with my check your gratitude check with myself and I'm just be like, dude, you are a full grown man and you are designing and teaching arching graphs for a living, and I honestly I couldn't be more grateful for that. As you can imagine, when time came around to choose a college major, I gravitated immediately towards studio arts and whether or not my parents winston, that I don't know they didn't let it show thankfully and let me do it and somewhere along the line in my academic career change direction a little bit and became our history major at graduation much too my surprise and my parents utter delight. I actually landed a position within my field of study, and I became an apprentice to an appraiser of modern and contemporary art in los angeles, and I studied under her for seven years and I went through all of the testing and certification became a full fledged appraiser and in totally did that for about thirteen years I'm really grateful for that period of time in my life just because I really honed in some amazing research skills and I got to spend a lot of time with my nose in our history books, which I think gave me this really deep well of imagery and inspiration to draw from and through all of the research I felt like it became intimately familiar with a lot of artists and designers who have since become very influential in my design aesthetic. In two thousand five, I decided I wanted to take a little bit of a career detour and just by way of context that was the year that etc launched. So a lot of online businesses were starting and I started an online shop called mahar dry goods and the gist of it was is that I partnered with about fifty artists to collaborate with them and all of their various amazing skill sets to put together a product line for children. So it was everything from special furniture, too costumes for dress that play to limited edition toys teo did corn are for the wall and honestly was such a passion project for me? I really loved that, and what I loved most was the introduction to this contemporary crafting community I met so many amazing artists and designers and craftspeople and woodworkers and I'm thrilled that today I call a lot of those people my friends now, in twenty ten, when we were at the height of the great recession, a lot of small businesses got hit hard, mine included, and I ended up closing my doors and started looking for my next career move. And honestly, I have to tell you, I am a big believer in more than one career in a lifetime. I think it's, a terrifyingly wonderful gift from the universe, to be able to start over fresh and go down a new path. And during this time, when I was trying to figure out what my next move was, I started teaching craft workshops around southern california. They were just projects that I was really passionate about and excited to share with people. And through that, in a series of wonderful conversations with friends and friends of friends, I ended up accepting a position with a digital media digital entertainment company in southern california, and they brought me on to start producing all of their d I y and crafting segments for their youtube channel, and it ended up being this amazing fit I, as I kind of grew into the position and my responsibility is expanded, I eventually became this odd hybrid of producer and talent, where not only was I producing the segments, but I was also developing the projects and eventually presenting them on camera and that's in large part how I've ended up here today that in partnership with the fact that I have to tell you one of my greatest joys and passions is really researching vintage craft projects and vintage craft traditions and really dissecting them and trying to break them down into manageable bite size pieces so that you and I can sit in our dining room tables or standard our kitchen counters and tackle these projects that might otherwise seem a little daunting or overwhelming and that's a lot of what we're going to be doing today and tomorrow, a lot of these projects that we're going to be approaching, have wonderful histories and come from great craft traditions, but we're going to master them in our own small way. So just to give you an idea of how the next two days air structured today is really about papermaking and ornamented, so we're actually gonna be making our own paper from scratch, and then we're going to delve into the world of patterning and stamping, and then we're going to finish the day with some paper marbling, which I know a lot of you have expressed some excitement about, and I'm excited as well. Tomorrow we're going to shift gears a little bit, and we're going to go into paper constructing, so we're going to build a garden of paper flowers we are then also going to tackle a couple of paper mache a projects which I really hope will expose you to some of the sculptural possibilities of paper and paper is I need to mention in the midst of all of this we're actually going to throw a little party we've got a segment today and tomorrow that are going to show you how to take some of these crafts that were making and transform them into really fun and festive decor for your next party or celebration so I'm looking forward to that I think that's going to be a lot of fun so paper is really where it started we are going to be exploring it in depth and it's papermaking has an amazingly long history we're not going to go into it too in too much depth but needless to say, archaeologists have actually found as far back as the second and third century b c e that the chinese were already using paper not only for righting but for packaging and wrapping and by the sixth century they had toilet paper and I know that since that time toilet paper has come leaps and bounds but the art of paper making is honestly very similar there's some very simple standard steps essentially you're starting with separating the fiber from the raw material and that's usually a paper would or cotton your pulverizing those fibers your beating them down into a paper pulp. You are adding them to a water bath, your screening them out. And then you're pressing out and expelling that excess water to create the actual sheets. And that really is where we are going to start today. In the nineteenth century, in the machine age, they came up with amazing machines that were able to create paper on roles and create long continuations of it. And that really entered the modern age of paper making. But we're going to go old school today, and our first segment is actually, in a start with building our own paper making screen. And you can buy professional papermaking screens. But I always love when you can take, ah, household item or something that's readily accessible and hack it into a tool or material that you can use. So what? We're going to be using our just a couple of simple picture frames really inexpensive there, about two dollars apiece? We got him in a local housewares store, and one thing to keep in mind in your selection of photo frames. When you're doing this, you really want them to be a flat front surface, no beveled frames, no decorative ornamental frames, because at one point we're going to be placing them face together, and you really want that connection to be flush on dh that's important as far as maintaining the shape of your paper. So what we're going to do is when you start by dissecting these, each of you has a pair of these at your table, a cz you know, there are these standards stays in the back, you can just kind of go ahead, open that up, remove the backing oftentimes their glass, these air plexi, and we'll just pull those out, and you should also have a pair of pliers at your table in your work station, and you can just kind of use those to pull out those stays. What we really want to end up with are just a couple of naked frames, so go ahead, pull those out of the first one to be careful with these stays on the back, they can be a little sharp, so just be mindful of that when you're opening them up. Will move those backings the backing in the plexi glass can be discarded or saved for another craft project I'm just going to go ahead quickly and remove the stays out of this second frame three and four there we go all right go ahead and get rid of these guys the next material that you will need is some fiberglass screening now this is something that you can purchased at any hardware supply store you've got a couple of options when it comes to picking screening this is something that would normally be a window screen or a door screen I really prefer the fiberglass only in that three old school metal framing tends to be a little bit more difficult to work with and once you cut it the edges are a little bit sharp this is just a little bit more forgiving it's incredibly soft it's really just like it cuts just like fabric which is fantastic now what we're going to be doing is we're going to be covering one of our frames with the screen and the other frame is going to end up being our dekel and we'll talk about that in just a moment so what we want to do first is lay your piece of screening down on your work surface and you're gonna take your frame and you're going to lay that face down on top of that and we all have some staple guns at our station now for those that you for those of you at home please forgive us for the sound effects in this segment we're going a little bit of staple gun and we're gonna have some hammering and we're also going to be using a blender so I'll give you a heads up when that's going to be happening essentially what we want to do is we want to fold the screen across the top edges of the of the frame and we're just going tio give it a good stable now honestly depending on the type of staple gun you have in the material that you have that your frame is made of you can see it didn't go all the way in don't worry about it we're going to use the hammer for that you can flip it around now and you want to work from side to side um and so you pull it a little bit taught not so much as to distort the frame but really just to make sure that you got a smooth flat surface so I'm going to do it on both sides work the other side's over and then kind of go along the edges so why don't we all kind of go ahead and do that? I know you're sharing staple guns but we'll try and consolidate some of the noisy steps by doing this for just a second you kind of see em working from side to side now in the corners, I'm just going to fold this over a little bit and tuck it and it's almost a ziff you were maybe doing the corner on a presence when your gift wrapping and again don't be concerned about the staples not going all the way in. We're just gonna hammer those down in a moment and finish off the back of the screen. J k o have you had a class that's been this noisy pass? We've had some great crafting. Yeah, that the last few months, some of them very noisy and some of them just being a marketing, but they've been a lot of fun, but I think it's fun to be noisy. It is it's nice to get your hands dirty every now and then because you can end up with some pretty amazing results. How are you all doing with stapling? Yeah, so you also have a handy hammer at your work station and forgive me I'm working on a metal surface. This is going to be perhaps a little thunderous, but I'm just going to go through and give all of my staples a tap on the back just to sink them down, flush into the wood and really secure the screening onto the paper making frame. Now, if you look at the back of my screen, you can see there is really nothing perfect about the way that this was stapled or hammered in really, as long as it is holding that screen taught on the surface, we're good to go and it's going to work perfectly well, a basic tool kit you sort of need teo and discover, but I think this is very standard household, I think it's very expanding there are a lot of bases, obviously a good pair of scissors and a craft night, a hammer um, a ruler, you know, a good set of, like, small pliers with different heads on them are really helpful when you're doing these kind projects and, well, actually is we're going through the's project over the course of the next two days are really try and be mindful about calling out some of the materials that I use on a regular basis and some of the tools that are probably the most used in my tool kit. Um, how are we doing? You'd like us to terms, was it nowhere actually just going to do the one? Yeah, so which really leads us into our next step, which is interesting, so this is the paper making screen, this second piece is really what you call a deck in the process of paper making this is laid flush on top, we're going to be creating a paper pulp mixture, pouring it into our water bath, and this is going to be dip down into it and slowly lifted out, and the purpose of the dekel is really just to help the sheet of paper maintain its shape. Now, if you've ever had to deal with high end invitations, if you've been married and had to look through all of those catalogs for wedding invitations, you know that a lot of them have what's called a beautiful deck allege and it's this lovely sort of irregular edge, which is actually pretty highly sought after because it indicates that the paper was handmade on it's, usually a really lovely quality. So now that we've gone ahead and made our papermaking frame, we're going to set that aside for a moment, and we're going to get started on our paper pulp. Now, this is a wonderful project because you can recycle all manner of materials into new sheets of paper, and I have spent a lot of time over the last couple of months recycling all manner of paper pieces just to kind of see what the results were, and you can do it with recycled newspaper you can use thie junk mail envelopes that you see in your mailbox every day receipt. Anything along those lines, I've just started keeping a little been, which would normally be my recycling bin and it's, not my paper making bin and putting that all together a couple of notes on that when you're dealing with, say, recycled newspaper that has a ink printing on it that will affect the color of your final sheet. So if you use just primarily printed newspaper, your and sheet of paper is going to be a little grayish in color. It's still really lovely, but for our purposes today, because we're going to be focusing a lot on coloration in different additives that you can make in your paper. We're going to be using just some standard recycled papers. You've got three different varieties at each table. There's, some standard copy paper. There is some construction paper and then a little bit heavier sort of card, stock, paper, and they're all basically in lighter shades that will readily accept the color and the additives that we're gonna be adding in. So to do this, we're going to be using a standard household blender it doesn't need to be high powered it really is just going tio pulverize our papers down to a mushy pulp now there are a lot of paper makers that will say or recommend that once you put your papers into your blender you cover them with water and you allow them to soak overnight. I really don't find that to be the case, especially when you're working with text wait paper if you're going to be using some heavier papers like I know papermakers that will create sheets out of, say, corrugated cardboard, the work apart boxes those I probably would recommend at least soaking for a half hour just to really soften and loosen up those fibers that once you turn your blender on it's going to readily um create a pulp from them. So what we're going to do? Obviously your table's you're going to be sharing blenders and water bath, so the first thing we wanted going to do is take just a variety of these papers in front of you and rip them up and fill the container I would say roughly halfway full it doesn't need to be and you don't want to be pat down tight and really it doesn't even have to be any smaller than this um we're just gonna toss those right in there kraft time robert sure does it matter? It's a wood or metal frames where there should be wood? You know what the reason I go with the would is because I can use the staple gun with it. If it were a metal frame, you would have to get a little creative in the way that you attach the screen to it on by certainly think that there would be a work around, perhaps you could use duct tape or some other adhesive now these are inexpensive frames were not going to be soaking them long in the water, but they're not a tool that's going to last forever. Eventually, those will start to break down. My only concern with the metal frames is that they may rust over time, so just something to keep in mind is asking, is that such a thing as too big a frame or two smaller frame with puny? You know it is really up to you were working obviously with a very small, manageable size frame, some of the projects that we're going to be tackling the next segment, I've made a little bit larger sheets. The only thing you want to keep in mind when you're working with a larger frame is that you'll need a water bath that can accommodate it, so we're using it is just a standard. Dish pan you probably all have them in your sink already if you were going to graduate to a larger size I might recommend going to your local house where store to the organization section and perhaps getting larger storage tubs and those could certainly be used to accommodate the larger frames. So I think this is probably gonna be a question from a ll the mother's watching it I know that a lot of washing with their children today can this just be should you use your blender just for papermaking? Or can it be used as a food blender afterwards? You can use it for food blender as well afterwards really? It's it's glass it's not going tio there's nothing that's going absorbed into it that would be harmful to you in the preparation of food afterwards. Obviously you just want to make sure to wash it really well, like you do with any of your dishes. So once you have placed your paper pulp in, I think we all have some water at our stations and I'm going to fill this roughly about halfway full. Yeah, should we feel it all the way up or you know you want to fill it just about halfway the pelican will be more or less covered but can kind of see I may be just a little bit more than halfway through and not too dense like did you pack it down? No, you don't want to pack it down. You want to leave it a little bit of room to move around. We don't want to impair the blades when we turn the blenders on.

Class Description

From making your own paper to marbling and stamping to sculpting hand-crafted objects, paper crafting is an incredible way to express yourself. Join Robert Mahar to explore everything this simple, sophisticated art form has to offer.

You’ll embrace your inner recycler as you learn to create paper pulp and form it into sheets of handmade paper. You’ll also explore the Japanese art of suminagashi and use this centuries-old technique to create gorgeous, marbled paper. You’ll learn basic stamping and patterning techniques that add extra flair to any project. You’ll dive into creating three-dimensional paper crafts as well, from hand-crafted flowers to papier-mache projects to other decorative and functional objects.

Whether you’re looking to create handmade gifts to share with friends or to add new paper craft goods to your Etsy® store, you’ll leave this course equipped and inspired to create dozens of new projects.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Robert Mahar - Paper Flower Directions.pdf

Robert Mahar - Paper Garland Directions.pdf

Robert Mahar - Paper Marbling Directions.pdf

free bonus materials

Robert Mahar - Course Supplies List.pdf

Robert Mahar - Syllabus.pdf

Robert Mahar - Letters Sample.PDF

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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user 1400000665814257

This class if filled with new and fun ways to use the paper that we have in stock. In addition, the paper technique that utilizes Suminagashi Ink is mind blowing! Anyone who loves to create beautiful things will enjoy this class. Robert is one who is an exceptional instructor, in that when he is demonstrating a new technique, he has an ability to use clear concise language. I have enjoyed the class, and plan to use the gorgeous floral pieces in my studio and home, along with creating a lovely party. Thank you!

a Creativelive Student

Really enjoyed watching this two day Paper Crafting course with Robert Mahar. It was full great paper techniques and inspiration. Roberts has such a calm and positive teaching style. Watching him work through step by step of each project you really pick up lots of wonderful tips and tricks of the trade. Highly recommend it.

Holly Herick

Robert Mahar is an excellent teacher with many great examples on paper crafting. Robert has encouraged me to continue working on my sculpted watercolor paper flowers—now I have a bunch of new tips and tricks to try. This class is well worth the price