Make Handmade Paper
A Fairy Tale by Stanislav Bojankov
As an artist with nearly 30 years of practice in printmaking, and of course, knowing and using different techniques for the transfer of emotions, human states, artistic ideas and feelings (which is the primary role of art), I have long convinced and experienced the special relationship with the material with which each artist recreates his artistic universe and with which he is in a deep and consciously maintained relationship.
I am an alumnus of one of the most famous and valuable art schools in the field of graphic art, namely the Krakow Art School (in Poland) – one of the oldest and most closely connected with the traditional graphic art Academies of Fine Arts. There I received in the 1990s a fairly solid education, which gave me the opportunity, after mastering the “craft”, in the traditional sense of the word, to start experimenting both with techniques and in the field of paper. To this, I must enclose my experience connected with my Bulgarian culture, connected closely with Orthodox traditions in my region of Europe, Cyrillic alphabet and other cultural elements.
In my practice, I work mainly in the techniques of linocut, intaglio printing (aquatint, aquafort, drypoint) and collagraphy, as well as traditional professional papers. I also use different handmade papers. In recent years, I’ve been experimenting in my atelier making my own hand-made paper. Sincerely, the fun is great… I recommend it to everyone! Experimenting, sampling, mistakes, and especially unsuccessful attempts are a great inspiration for every curious artist. The process of opening and working creates an almost magical connection with the paper, it becomes your best friend. It is ultimately the thing that carries your energy, passion, will, and personal imprint that incites you as an artist.
There are many and different papermaking techniques, but they always have to be done with love and respect. The philosophy of manufacturing is related to the recycling of various types of materials, old papers, newspapers, cotton, linen, various articles containing cellulose, plant ornaments, seeds, and twigs embedded in the dough, as well as various natural and artificial dyes, pigments and paints … The range of materials used can be very large and depends on the artist’s imagination and original ideas. The main principle is the mechanical preparation of homogeneous dough obtained from different materials milled mixed with water, which is the first stage.
A second step of forming the paper sheet, which also has different technological variants, is forthcoming. The most commonly used are the slices of a small net or different textile fabrics through which the dough is squeezed and the water that is mixed with the dough fibers extracted. Thereafter, the form and size of the paper sheet begin as well as its thickness. There are many ways to do that, the imagination and innovation of the artist are once again leading. I must emphasize that sometimes diverting or circumventing some principles of doing (misconduct) can also give interesting and unexpected results. In other words, mistakes can be used.
After determining the shape and size of the sheet, the third step is to dry the paper. The most practiced and popular method is sun drying as it has been practiced in the distant past. Other methods to evaporate water from the paper are heating installations, appliances, as well as pressing where different materials can be used. The purpose of the process is to get the fibers together and cling to each other, forming the matter of the paper, its body.
I assure you, the experience is worthwhile. It is a precondition for the artist and his material. And that certainly gives the artistic creations facts of art and experience.
The horizon of real phenomena (thought, time, space) where the echo of one’s own traces of existence and the need to be, the distant and the primary are identifiable with the roots.
The Roots; protohistory, antiquity, orthodoxy, the mystery of voices and incantations, existence, Ego, as a particle of matter, scattered amongst the romantic autonomy of the territory of origin, reveal a visualization, a feeling of unity of perception and understanding.
In my artistic work I am trying to collaborate in the framework of these local (and other) cultural traditions and to make (perhaps) new anticipations into the system of global presentiments of the modern individual, which graduate to become globally understood signs, symbols, and codes. This is an honest and true route for me in the search for the global in the local.
This article was written by Stanislav Bojankov and all images copyright © stanislavbojankov 2019
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If you are looking for a book on this subject, this is our recommendation:
Hand Papermaker’s Sourcebook
“Papermaking by hand is carried on professionally by only a small number of dedicated papermakers around the world. Yet the craft of papermaking attracts interest from many areas – bookmakers, calligraphers, artists, teachers, sculptors, and printers. The problem has always been where to buy supplies and machinery. Here, at last, is a book that lists sources of equipment and products worldwide for the hand papermaker. It addresses professionals and amateurs alike, listing sources of supply for all types of fibers, pulps, stampers, beaters, molds and deckles, vats, felts and presses dyes and pigments. It also lists papermaking kits, Japanese and oriental supplies, vacuum systems, pulp sprayers, paper information resources, workshops, magazines, and videos.”
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