On Saturday I attended a paper making and valentine printing workshop at the Soybean Press. This is the press that I took my students to in the fall when we visited the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois. They have a new initiative called Fresh Press that is researching ways to make paper from agricultural waste. We got to make heart shaped paper (natch) for valentines and then use their type to set valentine messages on paper that they had prepared for us.
We made paper from recycled cotton pulp. You can see the big vats of water and pulp that we used to pull our heart shape pieces of paper. Once a bunch of pieces of paper are pulled and stacked between layers of felt, they go into a press that squeezes all of the water out of them (I saw it go up to 2,000 pounds of pressure), and then into a drying box. The finished paper is so soft and lovely, I just want to keep fondling my finished valentines. I would like to figure out a way to hang one of them in a way that shows off the edges.
In a week, I will be working with the artists at the press to do a four day class for my high school students. We will make our paper on Tuesday, set our type on Wednesday, and then hopefully print a folio of their writing on Thursday and Friday.
I wish I had taken the photos in this post. They are all taken by Eric Bensen, one of the two artist/researchers behind Fresh Press. The line on my valentine is from this e.e. cummings poem. It’s one of my favorites.