Handmade paper has seen a recent spike in interest over the previous few years. The natural surface and sustainable manufacturing process are an alluring concept to many progressive artists. Most handmade papers are made by using a mould, which is typically a frame with a rigid, flat screen. The mould is dipped into a vat of wet pulp before being lightly shaken to distribute the fibres evenly and to drain off any excess water. The fibres remaining are then dried either by the sun or fans which dry the paper swiftly. If a smooth surface is desired the paper is run through rollers that are either heated for a hot press (extra smooth) finish or cold rollers leaving a not finish (cold press). There isn't one specific company who makes handmade paper as it can even be made at home with a screen, recycled paper and a bit of patience.
Over the previous decade demand for handmade papers has grown. The Khadi paper mill reported a 15% increase last financial year and the year prior and there seems to be no slowing down now. As the internet becomes more and more the central pillar of our modern lives, handmade papers can connect us on some level back to a tactile and traditional way of working. The imperfections on the sheets lends to the feeling of heritage and allows the artist to explore the paper on their own, finding the best use that suits them.
Handmade paper can be used for a wide variety of techniques depending on the paper you are using. For example, Khadi Papers are renowned for their use as a watercolour paper, despite the lighter weights not specifically being classed as such. Watercolourists flock to use these sheets as they have a unique feel and texture and have a genuinely rough surface compared to machine made papers. As well as being used for watercolour work handmade paper is used for scrapbooking and collage as it has a unique texture and surface quality that cannot be found anywhere else. The sheets are vibrant and exclusive, having unique characteristics between even the same batch.