An occasional newsletter about forthcoming books and events

April 2017


progress on
Paper making by hand in 1953

Paper-making at Barcham Green mill in the 1950s

planned for 2017

read the previous news item on this title
read the next news item on this title

Since the last report on this title I have almost completed the printing of the booklet which is half of the production, the other half being the sixteen photographs of the paper-making process as carried out at Barcham Green's Hayle Mill.

I did do one small experiment to check whether the Barcham Green Finale paper would print dry, not in all honesty expecting that it would as it is not surface-sized or calendered. So the next step was to determine how much damping would be required to get a good impression. I have printed on a similar weight of hand-made paper in the past so had a good feeling about what was required. Everyone has their own technique for damping paper; mine runs as follows. For a certain number of sheets of HMP I soak one sheet of 300gsm blotting, the actual number depending on the weight of the HMP. For the Finale that number was between thirty and forty. The edition is to be 120 copies (of which 95 will be for sale), so I decided to print 140 to allow for poor sheets etc. I therefore made a stack that looked thus:


I keep the stack between heavy glass plates in a plastic bag and after a day 'cut' the mini-stacks, middle to ends, to ensure even damping. I rely on the weight of the glass plates to ensure all the sheets remain in contact - too much weight on top can prevent the sheets from expanding (as they must) and nasty wrinkling can occur as a result. Two days are plenty for a good result. Too many days and I could end up with mouldy paper.

I take each sheet out of the bag just before it goes through the press.

Once a sheet has been through the press it goes onto another pile and, because I am neurotic about avoiding set-off, I interleave the printed sheets with sheets of plastic film, using a glass plate to keep the pile flat and to reduce the possibility of its drying out. 

Once all 140 sheets have been printed on one side, I change the forme, turn the stack over and print the backs. It needs to be done immediately as I don't want to dry the paper and then damp it again, and if you leave it damp for too long (e.g. several days) there is the risk that it will go mouldy. As I print the backs, I stack the printed sheets straight away with interleaving sheets of blotting, and once they are all printed I put the whole stack between boards and under a weight to ensure the sheets dry flat - a galley of leads is ideal!

I leave the stack under pressure for a day and then change the blotting sheets for fresh dry sheets. After another day the sheets are perfectly dry and flat and can be separated from the blotting and put aside ready for the binders. The blotting is put aside to 'air dry'. I have a sizeable quantity of it so have plenty to be getting on with.

There is a definite pleasure in printing sheets of damp hand-made paper, as opposed to sheets of dry 'ordinary' paper. Some of that is down to the deeper impression that one can achieve without it appearing on the back. And the texture of the paper itself is of course delicious.

As far as the letterpress for this book is concerned I now have only to print the covers and some spine labels for the case. The covers will be in the slightly heavier Barcham Green Chatham Vellum. I shall shortly be taking the sixteen original photographic prints kindly lent to us by Simon Barcham Green to a professional studio to have them scanned ready for us to print them here at the Press. More on this in the next newsletter.

If you're interested in this title, do let us know if you haven't already. We expect the edition to be of 95 copies for sale and the price to be around 90 (euro115, US$130) plus shipping at cost.

click to step to the next newsletter

click to see an index of our newsletters

Copyright Martyn Ould 2017