All paper that immediately absorbs paint is suitable.
The so-called “Himalaya Paper“ from Bhutan or Nepal offers the best qualities.
Imagine a tray from which nothing can slip because it is surrounded by a rim. My “tray“ is 3 x 1.20 m big and lined with several layers of transparent foil. Its edges fall generously on all sides. Into this pool are poured some 150 litres of water, into which methyl cellulose or other thickeners are stirred.
I use only solvent-free paints that can be thinned with water. The paints are put into the water out of 100 ml plastic bottles with drip nozzles. By using special tools, the paint carpet can be set in gentle or stronger motion. The paints are now dragged or pushed into particular patterns. The patterns can be stretched or shrunk with the aid of special additives. The result is chaotic, strong or gentle colour structures that can also be duplicated with a little experience. The smooth, dry paper is now placed on the paint pattern. The paper immediately absorbs the paint and it can be lifted carefully out of the pool.
Any residue paint is shaken off. The paper is placed between cotton or linen cloths to dry. This sucks off the liquid, and the pattern remains. Next, the paper is hung on a rail. After about 12 hours it is dry and ready to be smoothed out with steam. If the pattern fails, the sheet can be reused for a fresh one. However, it must be dried and smoothed out each time. That is a very painstaking process.
Not all sheets withstand the printing process on the wet printing table. 20 out of 100 sheets are spoiled, but they can used to make interesting sculptures. However, they take about four weeks to dry. The sculpture then weighs a much as the paper sheet that it originally was.
“Himalaya Paper“ is the brand name for paper from the Kingdom of Bhutan and Nepal. In a paper mill established in Bhutan a few years ago, hundreds of different types of paper are hand-made under extreme climatic conditions. In summer the sun beats down on the lokta plants , and in winter they brave the biting cold and icy winds. The photonized qualities of this paper survive subsequent treatment during the exhaustive printing processes. This has been scientifically proven.
Remarkable are the people who cut the rapidly-growing lokta plants at heights of two to three thousand metres and carry them to the paper mill, where the stringy, tough scrub is processed into a so-called “pulp” with spring water. The thick liquid is carefully poured out of vats onto a sieve and, still on the sieve, shaken into a smooth layer. The residue liquid drops back into the vat. The mass, resembling cotton wool, is beaten out of the sieve. The leaves are left to dry on thin bamboo netting, steep rock faces or on trellises in the open fields. Each leaf is carefully controlled and classified. Faulty, torn or unevenly-shaped leaves return to pulp.
If one holds a sheet against the light, the plant fibres appear as a fine web. The weight of the paper is measured in grams per square metre.
The paper does not yellow because it is made with spring water without any chemical additives. Bookbinders like it because it has no running direction, so that each sheet offers greater “utility”.