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Paper is so common today that we often overlook its sparsity in the past and the influence it has had on current levels of literacy. It has also promoted a range of paper products essential to modern living.


The oldest Chinese paper fragments date from around 100AD. However, this technology did not reach Europe until the middle ages where sheets of paper made from rags became an important ingredient in the development of printing.

In 1806 the Fourdrinier brothers patented a machine to produce rolls of inexpensive paper. Cheaper wood pulp paper was invented in about 1844 by Charles Fenerty in Canada and Fredrick Keller in Germany. Their processes involved mixing crushed wood with chemicals and boiling and pressing it to free the cellulose fibres. This went on to fuel the worldwide explosion of paper making.


Heated and treated wood pulp is spread onto an open mesh conveyor belt and drained to remove excessive water. The pulp is passed through a system of heated rollers to smooth the surface and remove even more water. Once dry the paper is trimmed at the edges and fed onto large storage drums where it is retained until converted into various sizes and formats.


The piece of paper depicted is the back side of a sheet torn from a reporter’s style note book. The perforations at the top are particularly interesting to draw. The subtle changes of tone and texture across the sheet prove more difficult to render and the writing seen though the paper gives an intriguing view of it’s possible message. The strong shadows and bright highlights created by the creases are the strong visual clues which indicate the main features of the sheet.

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