Saturday, December 5, 2015
I have been asked by a local alternative school to teach a week of papermaking as part of a section on electives at their high school. It's rather intense because I will be teaching for 5 full school days, 8:30 am to 2:20 p.m. I have taught papermaking for years in adult ed, after-school programs, summer camps and the like, but usually as one- or two-day workshops. So I am wondering what the heck I am going to teach to fill out so many hours and days. Making paper is cool and can go in many very creative directions but for five full days to high school age kids?!
But I am excited for the challenge and have been diving into all of my books on making paper and teaching papermaking to come up with a lesson plan. The more I plan, the more I have been reminded about all the fascinating things about making paper. I have planned a field trip to a paper manufacturer to see the commercial process of making paper. I am going to teach making paper using the dip method, which is the way I learned, but I will also teach the pour method. I plan to have a session on watermarks, on using clay molds to make cast papers, and we'll try our hand at designing and making a pulp painting to give to the school for their annual fund-raising auction. I am focusing half the day on studio work and half the day on classroom studies but it means I have had to hit the books myself to brush up on all those little things I used to know, including about some of the science of making paper - like the role that surface tension plays in papermaking, and all the interesting details about the cellulose molecule - and, of course, lots of social studies on the origins and history of paper. There is a fascinating story about how Egyptian mummies were imported to the United States so they could be stripped of their linen bandages to make pulp when there was a rag shortage.
So glad I kept all my fantastic books collected over many years about making paper by hand and teaching papermaking. Time to take a break from holiday crafting to hit the books!