Team-taught by Tim Barrett and John Bidwell, our class of academics, librarians, curators, and collectors met from to every day for a mix of lectures, discussions, and hands-on activities.
The hands-on part started the very first afternoon, when we got a sense of the steps involved in hand papermaking by actually making paper, one Asian-style sheet and one European-style sheet each: The next afternoon, we each made two sheets of European-style paper, one from raw flax, the other from cooked and washed flax, so we could see the difference in color and texture.
In other words, it’s not a particularly high-quality sheet of paper.
What seems to have happened is that someone used an old piece of paper—perhaps a blank endleaf removed from a book—and printed the 1807 Droeshout portrait on it (Folger ART 261181 (size S)).
On Wednesday afternoon, we sized half of each sheet in gelatin, as if preparing to make it into writing paper (as opposed to printing paper).
Finally, on Friday, we burnished half of each sized sheet with a stone (agate) to make it into fine writing paper.
Paper formed on such a uniform surface shows no pattern when held up to the light, unless a wire design intended to form a watermark has been sewn to the screen: Wove paper was particularly appreciated by artists and printmakers because there was nothing to interfere with the design lines of the art (except for the watemark, if any). The makers of the 1807 facsimile of Shakespeare’s First Folio deliberately printed it on wove paper watermarked “Shakespeare” and “J.
Whatman 1806” (and 1807), Whatman’s being the finest paper mill in Europe.
Take banknotes for example, where security printing measures are fundamental to their design.
There is a long history of crime in this area which is why such tight measures are put in place to stop this from happening.