The Roots of Papermaking
Raw Materials used in papermaking
The Beginnings of Mechanisation
Changes in Production Practice
A drying loft
Back to Processes
The Traditional Papermaking Process
Making paper took a skilled craftsman, many years of apprenticeship and great physical endurance. Sheets of paper were formed on a floating mould. A wooden frame or web was floated over water, which covered the base of the mould. Pulp was added to the mould and spread evenly over its surface. The mould was then lifted up horizontally leaving the fibres flat. The sheet had to be dried and this was traditionally done by leaving the sheet outside in the sun to dry, though often a dring loft was used.
Many mills would work on a two man system employing a vatman and coucher. The vatman would undertake the papermaking process described above. However, he would produce a batch of paper, rather than single sheets, for drying. After draining the vatman would pass the paper to the coucher who would couch the paper onto a damp felt. The coucher would hand the mould back to the vatman to begin again. When a batch of paper had been made the sheets were placed under a press to separate the paper from the felt and they were then taken to the drying loft to be hung over ropes to dry.