Hanji in California: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Hanji in California, a recap of the hanjimaking workshop at Logos Graphics in San Francisco on March 16-18, 2018. Funded in part by the CLS Alumni Development Fund, this was the final event in a series of Korean book and paper events taking place Feb-March 2018. (This entry features many photos from the hanjimaking event; if you want to look at even more photos, check out this Flickr album.)

hanji workshop
Hanji workshop in full swing (photo courtesy of Ben Chan)

So after lots of preparation and planning, we were ready to form sheets at the vat. Including me and John of Logos Graphics, there were 8 main participants. (Others were in and out: Emily helped with beating on Friday, Ben took photos and formed a sheet on Saturday, Sue fed us a delicious soup and other goodies on Saturday, and Anne made a guest appearance on Sunday.)

Robert filling the vat with water
Robert filling the vat

First thing in the morning, we filled up the vat (which was lined with a sturdy pond liner) with water and then added about half the bucket of pulp into the vat. After mixing for a long time with a big bamboo stick, I added formation aid — probably too much. After mixing again, we added some more water, mixed again, and then started forming sheets.

steph mixing the vat
Photo courtesy of Lars Kim

I will not show photos of me starting the post, but let’s just say it somehow got started! After forming a few sheets, I let the workshop participants have at it.

ben sheetforming
Ben’s first time at the vat

ben sheetforming

ben sheetforming
Ben was probably a papermaker in a past life
formed sheet on screen
Thick sheet ready to couch
ben couching
Couching a sheet onto our communal post

We had some issues with less-than-ideal threads which crept into the sheets and created some problems with the post. Also realized the left side of the corner couching guide stuck out too much, which made it difficult to lay down the threads. Also had some issues with the rope slipping off the pole and causing the position of the bal teul to shift, though we improvised with clamps. The list of future tweaks and improvements goes on, but the bottom line is: we made hanji!

katie couching
Katie couching a sheet
katie couching
Our growing post!

Just to be safe, I had students make pretty thick sheets to avoid issues with parting and drying. We made sheets for a couple hours, then took an hour lunch break, and then went back to the vat. We added the rest of the pulp and a little more formation aid and kept making paper until around 3:30, and by then we had mostly exhausted the vat.

mixing the slurry
Robert and Katie mixing the vat

John had calculated the rate of water dripping out of the hose such that by the time we returned the following morning, the giant blue barrel would have been filled to 25 gallons. After draining the vat, cleaning up the shop, and setting up the press, we all went home.

pressing under barrel
We left our post to press overnight beneath the big blue barrel

The following morning, we eagerly returned to Logos, and this time I brought along Anne Covell who was in town after teaching at SFCB over the weekend. Anne and I had made lots of paper at Iowa together so I was glad to have her there with me, especially for the nerve-wracking part.

After John lifted off the blue barrel with the pallet jack, we took off the press board and felt to reveal our post, which still looked pretty wet and… not pressed enough.

wet post
“Now what?”

So we changed out the felts, put the press boards back on, and took turns standing on the post. This helped considerably! We changed out the felts one more time, then stood on the post for another 10 minutes, and then we were finally ready to part the sheets.

standing on post
Several hundred more pounds did the trick

Because of the crazy threads, it was a little difficult at first to part the sheets without mangling the lead edge of the paper. I also discovered that many of the sheets were suuuuuper thick.

post ready to part
Not too wet, not too dry: this post is ready to be parted and dried

We used whatever surfaces we could find to brush the sheets on to dry. John had these adorable little heated metal dryers. We also used my press boards, along with some plexiglas that students brought in. We used John’s big exposure unit which fit six sheets.

lars parting
Lars parting a sheet with the parting rod
lars with parted sheet
a pressed and parted sheet, ready to be dried
lars drying
Brush-drying onto a piece of plexiglas
lars drying
We used a brush that John had picked up at Michael’s; it worked just fine

hanji drying on exposure unit

After we finished up the post, we left the paper to dry at Logos. Many of the thicker sheets popped off and cockled, while the thinner sheets seemed to do better. We made about 30 sheets of varying thicknesses but mostly in the 40-50gsm range.

Not bad for our first hanji workshop!

Overall I am super grateful for this opportunity to make hanji here in California and hope to do this again soon! Special thanks to John at Logos, Jim at Affordable Binding Equipment, Aimee Lee, Amy Richards, Ben Chan, and Julie McLaughlin. And to the CLS Alumni Development Fund, for supporting this work. And to my project-mates Yung-ju Kim and Kathy Hill, for partnering with me on this whole series of workshops. And to 명성은 and 민여진 for helping me order the necessary tools and materials from Korea. (And to Daniel and my parents, for taking care of Winnie. None of this would be possible without you.)


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