PSE 201 The Art and Early History of Papermaking


3 credit hour course, spring semester, no pre- or co-requisites

Tu, Th lecture 11:00am-12:20pm 211 Walters Hall

Tu studio 12:30-3:30pm 102 Walters Hall

Meets General Education standards for "The Arts" or "Other World Civilizations"

Course description and objectives - (scroll down)


Imagine our modern world without paper! Arnold Grummer has. In May of 2007 Arnold commented on his family owned company web site <> "Paper is amazing. It is thin and relatively fragile, yet most of the world's wealth and much of the world's fate are committed to it."

To appreciate how influential paper medium has been in human history, one should learn how human communication evolved. Dard Hunter has been recognized as the world's foremost authority on paper and papermaking <>, < > . Although Dard did not live to experience the e-age of communication, he describes the development of civilization in three stages; from speaking to one another, to drawing one's ideas and thoughts onto a practically immovable medium followed by printing, typically on paper, and capable of informing millions simultaneously.


Join me this spring as we explore prehistoric communication expressed in drawings such as found in the Altamira cave in northern Spain. Learn how civilization progressed in their ability to communicate ranging from etching pictographic jiaguwen onto oracle bones discovered in China to ancient cuneiform script writing on clay tablets unearthed in the Middle East. Find out why papyrus, which was painted with Egyptian hieroglyphs, is not true paper.


Is paper the ideal communication medium? No. But, the invention of paper (accredited to Ts'ai Lun in China, 105CE) was considered so important that it was held secret for approximately 500 years. Learn the techniques of this ancient art still in practice today and pass it on to your roommate, your friends and even your children some day.


While you absorb some history leading up to the invention of paper and the spread of papermaking to western cultures, enjoy hands-on studio sessions creating paper art. 'Get your feet wet' preparing mulberry bark fibers simulating the ancient Chinese papermaking techniques. Try your hand at pulp painting. Perhaps you will want to create some layered or laminated paper art. Maybe you're more interested in a printed paper art collagraph. No matter which form of paper art you prefer, DO try this at home! And before the semester is over, help choose a favorite recipe, plan and execute a larger scale paper art production run using our semi-automated sheet former.


Course Description

Two hours of lecture and three hours of studio per week. This papermaking course provides a historical (Asia - far east) and artistic perspective in both lecture and studio formats. History lectures will include the influence of paper art form in non-western cultures. Studio sessions may vary but generally will include historical papermaking by hand as well as more modern techniques in the creation of paper art forms.

Course text book on reserve at Moon Library

Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft by Dard Hunter

Course Objectives

1. Describe the origins of papermaking and its spread from far eastern cultures to its introduction into western society.

2. Demonstrate basic knowledge and understanding of how paper influenced ancient Asian cultures and civilization and its role in world history.

Paper Goddess shrine in Japan

3. Describe the far eastern culture history of using paper as an art form including:


Won Park

"Two Dinos" by Fumiaki Kawahata


Anne Chambers: Suminigashi, an ancient far eastern form of marbling

Mimi Schleicher

Artist Mimi Schleicher is a Marbler - in the Weaverville Art Safari ...

Video for mimi schleicher marbler▶ 2:15


Turkish Islamic art of Marbling -Demo(Ebru)


Paper cutting,

Peter Callesen

4. Discuss basic fundamental concepts of fiber characteristics and papermaking as its use relates to artistic expression.

Fiber preparation was originally accomplished through beating and macerating by hand that evolved into using machinery.

Beating fibers by hand

Valley Beater in PBE Laboratory

KRK disk refiner in PBE Pilot Plant

fibers (magnified) ready for making paper

Photo by John Crist and Ron Teclaw


Forming paper from prepared fibers using a mold (or mould) began with cloth stretched over bamboo sticks with variations of this concept still used today in hand making paper. The mould evolved into a wire for machine made paper.

hand forming machine forming

Second photo is of the wire section (shown with suspended light green prepared fibers) of the small paper machine used in PSE 202 Pulp and Paper Laboratory Skills

Removing the paper from the mold or wire and drying the sheet is the last step but may be just the beginning process for many end-uses of paper.

5. Apply imagination in choices of papermaking materials for artistic expression.

Course text book on reserve at Moon Library: 300 Papermaking Recipes by Mary Reimer & Heidi Reimer-Epp

Whether you choose among nature's vast selection of materials and objects or man made materials, your selection will create unique paper art. Express yourself! You are only limited by your own imagination.



Whether natural or man made items, most can be included in paper art by dispersion, embedding, layering, laminating, or by inclusion. Explore together the many techniques.

6. Create a portfolio of paper art forms including hand-made paper, paper marbling, and other paper artistic forms.

student portfolio

7. Develop an artistic paper grade suitable for production on a semi-automatic sheet former.

final project

Studio final project starts with a ten foot long student made sheet of art paper to which a time-line collage of the semester's paper art projects is assembled and displayed as a ceiling border in Walters Hall.

ceiling border

William M. Burry
307 Walters Hall
(315) 470-4779



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