I’ve been making paper for many years and I have to say that my absolute favorite mould is made by Timothy Moore. I’m not sure that he is even taking orders for moulds anymore (and if he is, he has a pretty long waiting list). Tim’s moulds are very expensive, which is totally worth it if you are a professional papermaker, but not so much if you aren’t as serious about the craft.
I have also purchased a new wove mould from Chester Creek Press. Robert Walp is making high quality moulds and deckles. Fair warning: good tools are high priced, but they are definitely worth it if you’re in the business of making paper.
Stephanie Hare also makes beautiful moulds and deckles for making stationery. These are high quality for what they are – plastic screening, finely sanded and slick surfaces and cool magnetic connectors to hold the mould and deckle together when sheet forming.
There are a few papermaking suppliers that carry moulds and deckles, too: Carriage House Paper, Twinrocker, and Arnold Grummer are the suppliers that I’m familiar with.
But it isn’t that complicated to make your own mould and deckle. Below are instructions excerpted from my book, The Papermaker’s Companion…
I made the following mould and deckle with needlepoint stretchers that were already jointed. You can find these at craft stores like Michael’s, or if you need quantities in bulk, try Marie Products. If you have basic carpentry skills, you can purchase lengths of 1-inch-by-1-inch pine (or more expensive hardwoods) and joint them yourself.
Here are the supplies you will need to make a mould and deckle that will form a sheet of 81⁄2″ x 11″ paper.
4 prejointed needlepoint stretcher bars measuring 10″ x 3⁄4″ x 3⁄4″
4 prejointed needlepoint stretcher bars measuring 121⁄2″ x3⁄4″ x3⁄4″
Water- and weather-resistant wood glue
Drill and drill bit
Eight 1⁄2″ brass or stainless-steel screws
Water-based polyurethane (oil-based is also okay, but I don’t like the fumes)
Tin snips for cutting wire
Rustproof wire screen (window screen or finer), cut to 91⁄2″ x 12″ (24 x 30 cm)
Hardware cloth (a heavy wire mesh with 1⁄4″ mesh squares) cut to 91⁄2″ x 12″ (24 x 30 cm)
Rustproof staples and staple gun
1⁄4″ or 1⁄2″ foam insulating strips (aka weather stripping)
* Note: Marine supply stores are a good source of waterproof and rustproof items, such as paints, staples, and screws
- Apply carpenter’s glue to the joints and fit them together to form two wooden frames. Make sure the corners are square. Drill holes in the corners and fit with screws to secure the joints. Sand the surfaces to make them smooth and even.
- Apply polyurethane with a brush to waterproof the frames and let them dry at least overnight. I recommend applying a second coat.
- To make the mould, place the window screen on top of the hardware cloth and lay the combined screen onto one of the frames. Center it and staple it to the frame at 1-inch (2.5 cm) intervals, keeping it taut. Put duct tape over the stapled edges to seal the screens and prevent pulp fibers from slipping between them. This also protects your hands from the sharp edges of the screens.
* Note: There are alternatives to wire screening. Carriage House Paper carries a heat-shrinking polypropylene screening that can be glued to the frame and tightened with the heat of a blow dryer.
- To make the deckle, cut the foam strips to fit along the inside edge of the “window” on the other frame. Use a staple gun to attach the foam strips at 1-inch (2.5 cm) intervals.
*Note: Your mould and deckle will wear over time, and the wire mesh may sag. This is why professional equipment has an extensive ribbing system. You can support your mould and deckle by cutting a rabbet groove on the pine lengths of the mould and sliding a piece of plastic grid (the kind used in fluorescent lighting) into it before you attach the screens. When using this type of mould, make sure you clean it well by spraying from the front with water, because pulp tends to get caught between the screen and grid.
And here’s an extra tip, which I tried out just today! If your papermaking screens do get clogged with pulp (my water pressure isn’t great, plus I’m working in a studio with no floor drain) soak them in water for a few hours and then take them to the manual car wash. Use the pressure sprayer to blast the excess pulp off of your screens.
Happy mould making!
I’d love to hear about the types of moulds & deckles that you use! Feel free to leave a comment and share your experiences!