"Papermaking for me is cathartic. Part of the appeal is that it's very physical—toting buckets of water, beating large quantities of pulp, hand mixing huge vats of color…It's wet, messy, and wonderful. I haven't picked up a brush or a colored pencil since I discovered papermaking." ~ Denise Fleming
Cotton rag fiber suspended in water (a wet, messy, colorful slurry) is poured through hand-cut stencils (made from foam meat trays) onto a screen (a window screen will do). The result—an image in handmade paper. The paper is the picture. The picture is the paper.
Illustrations from books illustrated by Denise Fleming
Learn how Denise Fleming makes her illustrations from paper pulp.
Going About Your Artwork
Make your paper pulp. Paper pulp can be made from toilet paper (put in it a jar or blender) or bought ready made. This is mixed with color pigments and then poured in squeeze bottles. Assemble the supplies needed for paper making on the table before the students arrived- dishpan, screen, cookie cutters to act as templates, colored pulp in squeeze bottles, paper towels, newsprint and handy wipes. Place the screen over the dish pan and lay a base layer of pulp. This will be the background color. The students can suggest colors and are able to be part of the process by taking turns squeezing out the pulp. On top of this background place a cookie cutter. Chose the color for this component and fill the template with pulp. At this step, glitter, seeds or other embellishments can be sprinkled on top of the pulp. Remove the cookie cutter. Using the handy wipes press out the water from the design. Once much of the water had been squeezed out, the new paper is carefully the taken off of the screen and placed between two sheets of paper towels and inserted between two sheets of newsprint. Pressure is applied to squeeze out more water. Once most of the water is removed, handle the new paper with care and transfer it to finish drying.