Onward with the papermaking! Today I want to scratch the surface on drying techniques. I want to talk about the simple act of drying your paper flat. I'm not going to get into textures today, because that's a whole other barrel of monkeys.
The most common way to dry paper is to layer your paper between several sheets of absorbent smooth towels or couching sheets, and then to top the whole thing off with some heavy books.
This is what it will look like:
Be careful of mold when doing this. Definitely check on your paper every few hours, especially if you live in a humid climate. In college we used plain newsprint as the absorbent layer. Then sandwiched the newsprint and handmade paper between two large pieces of MDF with cinderblocks on top. You could than recycle the newsprint into pulp!
I've also let my paper partially air-dry, and help finish it by ironing the paper. When using this technique, be sure to do it on a heat resistant hard surface. A padded ironing board will be too squishy. Here are the results:
Using a letter press is pretty fantastic. Great results, but even higher risk of mold. Plus not everyone owns one, and they aren't cheap. I bought mine from Dick Blick, and I would totally recommend it. I know there are some great DIY project on how to make your own press, but you don't need to be carpenter-handy at all to use this guy :).
This is my new favorite technique. None of my papermaking source suggest this, but I think it's positively fantastic. Turn your oven on to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Now place a piece of moist paper in the center of the largest cookie sheet you own. Nesting cookie sheets that are sold as a set are perfect for this drying technique.
Now carefully lay the smaller cookie sheet on top of your paper. Make sure there is nothing on the bottom of this cookie sheet, and be sure to use one that has a smooth bottom. If you use a sheet that has "made in Taiwan" stamped into the metal on the bottom, your paper will have that permanently embossed into it. Stick it in the oven, and check on your paper every 15 minutes or so. My thicker papers sat in the oven for up to an hour before it felt dry, and the thinner papers take half the time.
Here is a comparison of air dried paper with a sheet of oven dried paper.
Hope you all like, happy DIYing!