A unique specimen (Latin: unus one, one single; adj. Unikal = unique, unique) denotes the uniqueness of an object in general usage and in photography the term is used for recordings that are not reproduced due to the recording process (e.g. Polaroid recordings) can be. This also applies to the carrier material on which the recording is located.
For a long time I thought about how I could make small unique pieces out of my photos and came to the decision to make the carrier material (photo paper) myself. Handmade paper is by nature something special and every single sheet is unique due to its individual nature.
Well, the question arises, how is handmade paper made and what materials are necessary and how is the workflow. Here, as is so often the case, the Internet offers assistance. In my case, to produce my own photo paper, I couldn't find a suitable page for myself and so in the end my own solutions had to be worked out.
The following materials are required to make paper:
- Scoop frame (self-made initially in size A5),
- raw materials such as flax, hemp, cotton, rags, etc.,
- additives such as sizing, starch and, if necessary, color pigments,
- Felt pads slightly larger than DIN A5 for couching,
- a large vessel
Before industrialization, each sheet of paper was scooped by hand using a ladle frame from a large vat of raw material fibers. In order to produce paper, just as it was back then, we have to shred our selected raw materials and process them with water into a pulp. If a thick pulp has formed after soaking the fiber raw materials, the pulp must be crushed several times with a purifying stick. The pulp is mixed with plenty of water in a large vessel, so that a kind of milky soup is created. Before the scooping begins, the water-fiber mixture must be properly whipped, as the raw material fibers settle on the ground quite quickly. With the scoop frame you dip vertically into the water and turn the Horizentahl frame in one movement and slowly pull it horizontally out of the water. The fibers lie flat on the frame and form a sheet of wet paper fleece. The wet fleece is pressed onto the felt lying there and loosens from the scooping frame (couching). The exchanged paper fleece is covered with felt and the next fleece can be couched. In the end, the paper fleece and the filing were made into a puck. The swab is put in a press to squeeze out the excess water. In my case I placed the package between two boards and pressed it together with screw clamps. After about two hours, the package can be opened and the individual sheets of paper peeled off the felt and hung on a line to dry for several days.
After drying, the handmade paper must be ironed flat and can already be written on in this condition. In order to be able to print on the handmade paper, the paper must be provided with a coating (trade secret) so that the pigment ink does not behave like a sheet of blotting paper.
Holding a self-made unique piece in my hands is something special for me and the EXPENSE is worth it!