Papermaking

Teaching Art

At university I specialized in fibre arts. From weaving on floor looms to making hand-made paper for book making, I always fantasised about using the processes I learned in my studio classes in the classroom with students one day. With pruney hands and an art room that smells like a wet dog, I am proud to say, my students now know how to make paper!

The video below shows the steps in which I lead students through the process.

Papermaking with 25 students in the classroom felt overwhelming. So, after a lot of thought, I figured the best way to manage the lesson without having students waiting around for ‘their turn’ to make a sheet of paper was to have students rotate to different stations and take part in various steps of the paper making process.

With 4 to 5 students per group making it manageable, students made their rounds to five different stations. One station was simply reading books to discover paper making in different ancient civilisations, and another studying paper making vocabulary and quizzing each other. More active stations included ripping paper,making pulp and pulling paper.

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 After collecting paper from previous projects and from our community, students began by tearing up the paper into small pieces before blending it with water to make a paper pulp.

I was a bit nervous about the children using the blender but I stressed safety and made the rule that the power must be off on the power strip before the lid of the blender comes off – POWER OFF, LID OFF.

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I then helped the children at the papermaking station to demonstrate how to properly use the mould and deckle and to couch the paper onto the felt before bringing it to the drying rack. We repeated the same lesson a second week to take advantage of the students’ knowledge and confidence using the paper making equipment. Many of them were able to complete each station on their own, allowing me to monitor and assist where needed.

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It was a wet but wonderful two weeks facilitating a lesson that I have always wanted to teach. This lesson also highlighted another topic I am passionate about – finding ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and minimise the waste produced in the art room.

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