Handmade Papers: Portfolios on Exhibition

Through December in the Book Arts Gallery, Neilson Library 3rd floor...

The process of western hand papermaking is shown in capsule form here in Theatrum machinarum by G. A. Boechler, published in Nuremberg in 1662. Raw materials (primarily linen and cotton rags in early papermaking) are soaked and then pounded into pulp by the stamping machine (pictured at the front), powered by the water wheel outisde the mill at the far left. Early paper mills needed a reliable and plentiful water supply both for power and for mixing in large quantities with the paper pulp during manufacture. The vatman forms a sheet of paper by dipping a paper mold (a tightly-woven screen surrounded by a wooden frame) into a vat filled with water and paper pulp. As the mold is lifted out of the vat, the water drains away; the wet sheets then are transferred onto woollen felts, leaving the mold free to form the next sheet of paper. Another man operates a large press to remove excess moisture from the newly formed sheets, after which the paper is hung on ropes or beams to dry. Packages of finished sheets of paper are visible behind the vatman.


This exhibition showcases six portfolios of handmade papers published between 1994 and 2003 by Hand Papermaking, Inc. Four of these portfolios feature letterpress printing, watermarks, photographic techniques, and innovative printmaking, all on handmade papers. The other two present handmade papers from Nepal and design and pattern in decorated papers. Forty of the handmade paper samples from these portfolios are framed and will hang in the gallery. The others will be on display in our exhibition cases. The paper samples are accompanied by booklets which include detailed information about the artists, their papers, and their techniques.

Also featured in this exhibition are paper-related items in the collection of the Mortimer Rare Book Room: books by Dard Hunter; manuals on papermaking and printing on dampened paper; papers made by Douglass Morse Howell; and historical and contemporary uses of handmade papers.

Morgan Gallery & Book Arts Gallery
Neilson Library level 3
November -- December, 2004

Gallery Hours

Days Hours (approx.)
Monday - Thursday 8 am - midnight
Friday 8 am - 11 pm
Saturday - Sunday 10 am - 11 pm

For detailed hours information see http://www.smith.edu/libraries/hours.


Barbara Blumenthal
Mortimer Rare Book Room, Neilson Library
(413) 585-2906