Sorry for the delay, it has been really busy here at the museum this last month…which is a good thing, so we’re not complaining.
Fortunately not all of the manuscripts regarding Arthur’s experience at the paper mill were in French. Here is a section that describes in detail what’s involved in the process:
“The ancient press is turned by hand, yet is able to squeeze the excess moisture from the stack of paper with several tons of pressure. Four men are needed for this operation of the presage. Pulling the wet paper and felt underneath the press, they pile heavy wooden boards on the top of the stack and water oozes from it like a waterfall.
The press is turned a few times with the help of all the workers. Then one of them places a huge log with a rope tied around it parallel to the ceiling and pulls it around in a circle winding the rope around a floor to ceiling turnstile. After the paper is pressed, the sheets are hung up in the drying room. The room is on the third floor of the main building and surrounded by windows on four sides, for maximum light.
When they are completely dried, they are put through a hydraulic press to flatten them out- the only stage where a modern method is utilized.
One may question why should these costly and time consuming archaic methods of papermaking be preserved, particularly when there has been so much mechanizations of the paper industry. But the answer is apparent, in modern mass production of paper, it is impossible to re-create the quality and beauty of these hand-made papers. The resurgence of interest in paper making in the U.S. indicate how important it is to preserve the techniques and secret methods of traditional paper making, as they are rapidly becoming extinct.”