by Jonathan R. Wright
From the thirteenth century on, Greek manuscripts were written increasingly on watermarked paper imported from Italy, and soon from other sources in Western Europe. Watermarks were developed by Italian papermakers. They may originally have served to identify papers produced by different workmen within a factory (who were paid by the piece).
Picture several workmen working at adjacent workstations in a factory, all producing paper of the same size and appearance. It is easy to imagine a workman suffering from backache, getting behind in his work, and being tempted to steal from another who had produced a larger pile of paper. However, the watermark originated, this new development in papermaking technology was quickly adapted to new functions by the paper factories, which began using them as "trademarks" and to distinguish different grades or batches of paper.
"Watermarks were made by bending pieces of wire into filigree designs (French: filigrane) and tying them onto the wire mesh which served as the bottom of the paper mold. As the paper pulp drained, this device would be imprinted in the paper along with the lines of the wire mesh.
Watermarks took many different shapes, such as natural things (Fig. 1) (e.g., birds, hands, flowers, mountains); tools and weapons (e.g., anvils, hammers, arrows, rifles); household implements and clothing (e.g., vases and pots, scissors, hats, gloves or gauntlets); mythological beings (e.g. dragons, mermaids, unicorns); religious symbols (e.g., angels, crosses, paschal lambs, chalices); and heraldic symbols (e.g., crests, monograms, crowns, trophies). As the use of watermarks became standardized, so did their location in the sheet of paper. The watermark was normally situated in the center of one half of the sheet, so that when the sheet was folded to form two folios, the watermark would appear approximately in the center of one of the folios. Sometimes this usage was varied; for example, papers were sometimes made with double watermarks so that when the sheet of paper was folded, each folio showed a watermark in the center."
This little info stuck with me while researching I learned different methods used the traditional way it done with wiring the screen and a more contemporary way is done with foam of all sorts, easy but the only down fall is foam can last so long before its starts to deteriorate. The system with the wiring to the screen has been the go to method if you want fine mark making.
"Beginning in the sixteenth century, in addition to these watermarks, many papers also were given smaller, secondary marks called countermarks.
Countermarks were usually small letters or numbers or simple shapes such as flowers or shields. (Fig. 2) Countermarks were situated in a corner of the sheet of paper, usually on the opposite half of the sheet from the watermark. In codices, they usually appear on one of the outer corners of the folio, if they have not been trimmed off during binding and rebinding the codex."
Researching Countermarks it was a way to further your identification/security in case the original watermark was unseen. I'm interested in doing this also with my further projects. if done right your countermark and watermark can make one solid watermark to make an interesting pattern/image.
By Zixiang Jin
A watermark is a pinpointing image that comes with variety of darkness or lightness when viewed by transmitted light. Government documents, including the field of currency and postage stamps are known to employ water mark in order to avoid forgery. Cylinder Mould and dandy roll processes are used in producing watermarks in paper. The new technique of laser’s watermarking has a wide range of benefits. They include secure data protection methods are easily incorporated, easy customization per document, high-contrast mark and time and money is saved on changing tools.
Various skills and techniques have been invented. Example include water fluid that water fluid that does not damage the paper even after wetting it. Examinations employs watermark. They are used in determining the quality of a sheet of paper, identifying sizes, dating, mill trademarks and locations. New technology breakthrough has made watermark a necessity. Watermark is incorporated in document security such as driver’s license, banknotes, passports and other state issued-photo IDs (Benderly, 2015).
Today, paper can be watermarked using three processes. One way is use of Fourdrinier which is made during paper manufacturing process. It is often referred to as a true watermark. Dandy roll applies varying degrees of pressure. The dandy roll contains the image to paper that is still wet. The paper is impressed in select areas of varying thickness making the watermark to appear when illuminated from the back. The thicker layers of paper block and absorb light (Benderly, 2015). This ensures the darker color. The thinner portions appear lighter in color because they let light to pass through them.
Artificial is another type of mark. It is created by printing an image using an opaque, transparent ink, white ink or using varnish. The process is quite unique because it can be seen from one side of the paper when viewed from an angle reflected with light. When illuminated from one side of document it is invisible.
Cylinder mould is also a common type of watermark. It includes depth with shaded, grey scale image. Shading is caused by areas of relief on the roll’s outer surface. Paper is rolled once it is dry to produce a security mark of varying thickness and density. This process appears more detailed and much clearer compared to using the dandy roll process. It is commonly used in motor vehicles titles and other documents where measures of anti-counterfeiting are taken.
The laser technology has made it possible to have made it possible for synthetic paper to be watermarked. The process used can either be wet or dry process. It is done by deforming the selected portions of the micro-porous structure in a pattern corresponding to the mark and changing its light transmission characteristics. The synthetic paper pores is distorted by radiant energy from the laser beam. Careful selection of laser parameters will help the paper’s top layer to remain the same. The technique under normal conditions provides low visibility. When illuminated it becomes highly visible.
David Benderly (2015) New watermarking techniques provides additional security benefits in Authenticating documentation. Photoscribe Technologies
Buxton B.H (1977) The buxton encyclopediaof watermarks. Tappan, New York.
Papermaking Research on Artist John Babcock
As an emerging papermaker, I find inspiration the most in papermakers who are utilizing paper in a unique way. When looking at artists work online I was in particularly drawn to John Babcock’s work. John Babcock is a California based artist who focuses mainly on paper as his medium. Babcock has shown in over thirty museums in Europe, the US, and Japan.
Babcock uses large scale and small scale works to evoke emotional responses and focuses mainly on color. I was so intrigued by his work I sent him some questions about his technical process and his conceptual process. I’ve included some images from his website but all of the in process shots were photos he sent me in the interview. Anything in quotes are direct responses that I have included from the interview.
The above image is a work that caught my eye. I was particularly drawn to the cut out negative space within the paper because of it’s repeated pattern and mostly because of the cast shadows behind it.
This is what John Babcock had to say about it when I inquired how it was made.;
“Kozo pulp, beaten by hand, two masters, blue and green. made thin by massaging pulp into a water bath see photo below.”
finished kozo sheets ready to be adhered to mylar.
Below: spirit wave image cut on vinyl cutter.
Many of Johns concepts are really interesting to me. He focuses on a wide variety of ideas throughout his work- but still manages to keep his entire body of work cohesive visually. Some concepts he touches on are expressing ideas of love, commemorations, animals, spirituality, and many more.
I was interested in his process of executing ideas. I wanted to know if he went into his studio with a specific concept in mind or if he let the highly technical process of papermaking guide his inspiration.
This was his response;
“I am a builder. I work with the pulp as a sculptor manipulating the fiber into place. Since I have many techniques of working over a span of 40 years, it is difficult to generalize “this is how I work”.
Color Rules. Color is my first decision. Size is next. Sometimes I will sketch out patterns. For commissioned work I might even make up a maquette with collaged papers. Sometimes my concept isn’t clear at all. If it isn’t, I might start making pulp, pigment the pulp and start mixing the colors. In that process of getting involved with the material, usually ideas start to emerge and the ides of form evolve. If I want to make a work based on feeling, I will visualize the feeling with colors in mind.”
I then asked how his process has developed throughout his career;
“The process has developed because I have a lot more tools and techniques available. We didn’t know much about structure of paper fiber when I started. In the nineteen seventies my cotton came from linters mixed in a washing machine or very lightly beaten in a hollander. The pulp when spread out on a large plastic surface invited manipulation. In the archive click on “statement” in Faults and Fissures http://www.babcockart.com/faults-fissures/
When abaca was introduced to paper artists in the very early eighties I discovered a translucent shiny fiber that transmitted light differently. I was fascinated that by working cotton and abaca side by side I could make the abaca match or contrast with the cotton thus developing hidden images and color fields that changed as the viewer changed position or as the light changed during the day. http://www.babcockart.com/collage/”
John works with a lot of free casting. One of his bodies of work I am inspired by is his Ladder series.
“ The ladder has a special significance for me. It is a path to higher ground or a higher plain. I have climbed ladders all my life both physically and metaphysically, as perhaps you have. In this series I have enjoyed exploring the chemistry of color and the color of aspiration.” – John Babcock
“I mix 15 gallons of a master color pulp. I will make from 2-4 master batches. from 30 - 60 gallons. I intermix these pulps to make a gradation in 10-20 buckets five gallon buckets partially full. I call this building the color and it will take a few days to get the blending correct to my eye. I will then repeat the process for abaca.
Free Cast: I concentrate the pulp like cottage cheese and place it on a waxed plastic surface and manipulate the pulp about a ¼” thick to the desired shape. I can make sharp edges if I want. I work blind. Face side is down. 1991 late ladder series photo below.”
“April 2000 Soquel Studio
The cotton fiber is in place, abaca pulp will be placed in and over the top of the cotton to hold it all together, working blind.
So “free cast pulp” is casting without a mold.”
Some more of John Babcock’s free casted paper; (my favorite series)
Perceptor 1984 71” x 56”
Perceptor is a spirit piece that for me is an overlord of the gallery space it lives in. It was one of the first explorations of a changing color and fiber gradation, which creates a shifting pattern from different views.
free-cast cotton and abaca fiber pigmented in the pulp
Messenger 1984 44”x 112”
Secret messages within. The tiles are made from from varying combinations of abaca and cotton pulp creating subtle patterns that are only seen in a certain light.
free-cast cotton and abaca fiber paper
Lastly, a sculptural piece that I find very interesting – which was inspired by Arizona;
Faulted Arch 1979 16”x 16”x 32”
This is one of a series of sculptural works dealing with topography and landscape. It is about what we don’t see usually, but get to see for instance, when visiting an Arizona canyon where erosion gives us a glimpse of times past. Collection : International Paper Company. Exhibited in “Paper/Art – A Survey of the Work of Fifteen Northern California Paper Artists” at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento CA. January, 1981
sheets of laminated earth pigmented cotton fiber paper
Within papermaking there is a lot of equipment – you got your vats, your molds, deckles, buckets, hoses, presses, dryer boxes, blotters, etc, etc, etc. But above all the beater is king. Without someway to break down the fiber you got nothing.
After all most of the items are pretty common place. Take some water, a blender two old picture frames and some old window screen and you can pretty much make paper. Problem is that it will be kind of lump and bumpy, not hold up real well, be hard to write or draw on, and generally not perform for anything than being able to view it as a piece of paper that you made. Begging question – if it doesn’t function the way we ask paper to function than is it really even paper? Regards of its paperness we must look at the reason why.
The reason paper turn out so poorly when made using a is because the paper that comes from a blender is chopped while the paper that comes from a beater is macerated. The action of macerating elongates the fibers allowing them to flow together creating a strong woven hydrogen bond while also being able to compress down into a flat even sheet, and the way to do this is with a beater.
Since around 1673CE (Library of Congress) western papermaking has been reliant on the design of one tool for its papermaking – The Hollander Beater. This oval trough with a cogged wheel and a bed plates does a fantastic job on macerating fibers of all kinds. The issue with it is accessibility. The market for these machines is pretty limited and they are built to last so new Hollander Beaters are made to order and run you somewhere in the ballpark of $10,000. That right there is a pretty heafty sum of money to come up with on the front of starting a new papermaking studio, and to my mind is the main prevention of papermaking expanding within the arts.
I became interested because it would seem to me that in the age of the Do-it-Yourself movement, wiki-how and youtube fix it videos, we could come up with a solution to this problem. I got to wondering if papermaking has been around since 105 CE (Asunción 9) but the Hollander Beater didn’t come on the scene until around 1673CE how was the paper being beaten for for other 1500 year? Maybe this could be a clue into how to make a beater that is more affordable and still produces the same product. Here you will find a survey of different paper beating machines and methods.
Hand Beating – In the beginning there was hand beating. The Chinese made paper from rags, finishing nets, mulberry tree bark, nettles, and hemp that were softened with lime and fermented before crushing and grinding them by hand to a pulp using a hand mortar. (Asunción 14)
Though a very early and possibly considered rough, primitive method some of the most beautiful papers are still made today using a similar process. For many fibers like Kozo or Gampii a cooking in caustic solution followed by a hand beating with mallets or wooden paddles is used. From afar someone seeing the rhythmic beating of wet pulp with a piece of wood may even seem slightly barbaric. However, after the suspending in water and pulling a sheet it creates some of the must beautiful and delicate paper often with slight wispy hairs suspended within.
Japanese Stamper – Not surprisingly following hand paper beating came a tool that would beat paper in a similar way but without the laborious work. Though in Japanese papermaking the beating is really secondary to the preparation of the fiber in the cooking and washing stages. “Fiber selection, cooking and washing are the most crucial preparatory steps in Japanese papermaking” “Minor variations in cooking and washing can produce very different papers even from the same fiber” (Barrett 35) While there are many variations based on area, mill and the papermaker the general process is “boiling the fiber in a strong alkali solution to dissolve most of the lignin, pectin, waxes, and gums, leaving primarily cellulose fiber and hemicelluloses.” (Barrett 36) After that the fiber is put into clean water and meticulously inspected – picking out and removing small bits of left over bark or imperfections until the fiber is a consistent tone. Following the cleaning the fiber is ready to be beaten. “The fiber is twisted into thread and woven into tight patches of cloth” “millions of long straight fibers, all laying closely together” “The fibers stand loosely together in the bark…ready to come apart” (Barrett 44) after this the fiber is beaten for only around 30 minutes. The beater itself was invented in “1920’s to substitute for hand beating” (Barrett 46) The stamper beater consists of a metal shaft with a hardwood striker mounted to the bottom, that can travel freely vertically as well as rotates. It is bolted into a sturdy wooden frame and powered by an electric motor that when running raises and lowers the striking part of the machine into a small basin at the bottom where the fiber is kept. For final processing a Naginata beater is often used (Barrett 46)
Naginata Beater – The Naginata beater came on the scene after the invention of the stamping beater. In the use of the stamper the purpose is not to chop, cut or macerate the fiber. The goal is rather to separate the fibers from each other. After stamping the fiber is put into the Naginata to “tease” the fibers apart. The Naginata looks very much like a western Hollander beater, an ovular trough with a mechanical apparatus that the fiber and water passes through. Unlike the the Hollander the roll and the bedplate have been removed. In there place is a series of curved dull knife like thanes attached to a rotating horizontal shaft and powered by an electric motor. These curved “blades” are what gives the Naginata its name, originally coming from the the name for the curved halberd used in battle. While the Naginata is running for about 20 minutes or so depending on the fiber the dull blades chop at the water and fiber freeing the strands of fiber from each other and separated them from each other – suspended in the water and ready for sheet forming (Barrett)
Western Stamper – Before the invention of the Hollander beater in the western world the use of the western style paper stamper was the main tool of the papermaking industry. The stamper normally consisted of 3 or more hammer like heads that would land their blow inside of a rounded bottom stone trough. Often metal was used at the bottom of the trough to increase longevity. The head of the hammer that came in contact with the bottom of the trough would be outfitted with a gridding of nails or sometimes a custom cast plate or head – similar in appearance to the bed plate of a Hollander beater. The arm of the hammer attached to a pivot point that would allow the hammer to raise and fall. The force causing the raising and falling of the hammer was powered by a rotating shaft outfitted with pegs interspersed so that the hammers would raise and fall in separate timing from each other. This shaft would often be powered by water and a mill running alongside of the building the beater was housed in. Prior to beating rags, where were the primary source of paper, was cooked or most often retted (rotted). The fiber was then poured into the trough and processed –typically taking around 3-5 days. “The behavior of the pulp under the hammers perfectly fits the various descriptions made in the 18th century. When a hammer is raised, it creates a depression which draws in the pulp expelled by the drop of the neighboring hammer.” (Moulin à papier)
601 Production LTD, Traditional Paper Making Process, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lltkdyE1OG0, May 25, 2012
Asunción, Josep. The Complete Book of Papermaking. Lark Books, 2003
Avi Michael, Chancery Papermaking, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-PmfdV_cZU, May 28, 2003
Barrett, T., “European Papermaking Techniques 1300–1800.” Paper through Time: Nondestructive Analysis of 14th- through 19th-Century Papers. The University of Iowa. Last modified July 14, 2014. http://paper.lib.uiowa.edu /european.php.
Barrett, Timothy. Japanese Papermaking. John Weatherhill Inc., 1983
Library of Congress. Papermaking Art and Craft. Vinmar Lithography Company, 1968
Moulin à papier. http://www.moulinduverger.com/papier-main/article-42.php. 2006
sararingler, Kozo Beating, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgXZLkwJqZ0, July 16, 2009
stampochpress, Handmade papermaking and handcasting type, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MTb7Nt9jNY, November 7, 2007
Vally Nomidou creates life-size figurative sculptures out of paper that may be haunting at first glance, and yet become gorgeous throughout the contemplation of her process and content. Nomidou is an artist from Athens, Greece and a Graduate of the Athens School of Fine Arts, and of the Saint Martin’s School of Art of London. The body of work I have researched centers on Nomidou’s exhibition “Let it Bleed” which occurred in 2010 at the Fizz Gallery in Athens, Greece as a part of Art Athina, a yearly international art fair hosted in Athens.
In this exhibition Nomidou presented seven sculptures of female figures including adult women and young girls. The sculptures offer an immediate sense of recognition given by their extremely life-like presence, attention to detail, and naturalistic gestures. To start her process Nomidou plaster casts body parts from her sitters and goes through an extensive method of documentation taking several photographs of her models. After this Nomidou sorts through her collection of substrates including printed materials, newspapers, paper towels, handmade paper, and cardboard while consciously deciding on a color palatte attributed to the natural materials. She starts with an internal framework made of cardboard as an armature and works from the inside out. After this, the artists attaches the plaster cast pieces and then builds layers of the paper material using wood glue, acrylic medium, and often sewing and stitching which then reflect a surface reminiscent of skin. Further some of the surface is rubbed, sanded, and polished to evoke sensuality and play with the viewer’s visual perception activating their sense of touch. Many of the sculptures make great use of negative space as they are exposed in areas where the figure is incomplete possibly creating a sense of emptiness, but also giving the figures a light quality. This openness is a direct invitation for the viewer to contemplate the relationship between exterior and interior surfaces.
The message I believe Nomidou suggests is that her material is used to venerate that which is vulnerable, available, and temporary. Because she chooses not to use anything else she fully exposes the viewer to her process and materials leaving almost nothing to the imagination. Although there is a grand sense of naturalistic illusion the transparent content of the piece is best reflected by the translucent layers of paper built up on the surface. It’s a strange mixture that prompts the viewer to struggle between the thought of witnessing something pleasant or possibly vile. Her methods may also suggest feelings of loss and possibly suffering as Nomidou is very fond of the haphazard assembly of the works in reference to the stitching and sewing which is indicative of wounds, and scars, and effects on the body. After all one of the main themes in her work is fragility as the artist states: “…I work out my figures spontaneously with the intention to show the mental state of ‘’between’. Between different trends, orientations, routes, decisions. The situation to be between and to do connections, fragile connections with a variety of possibilities, with uncertainty. Without a final decision. With tyranny. The difficulty, the sensitivity, the contrary emotions that coexist, the agony, the empathy, the cowardice, the fear. The game and the pleasure to express all these situations sometimes gently and sometimes hard...All these are a fragile world written on the female body which I build… People I know, anonymous people, simple people, children, (my son, a refugee girl, a lonely girl with a famous family) an abnormal dancer…All of them have something vulnerable. They are personalities under formation, defenseless against their fate.”