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[BKARTS] Speaking of grain



Some observations about grain in paper.
As noted by Gavin, it is commonly accepted that grain in paper is a function
of the primary fiber orientation created in manufacture. Under this theory
handmades show little grain because the papermaker's shake creates a random
orientation whereas machine manufacture tends to align fibers parallel to the
direction of the moving web. Mould made papers, under this scenario, fall somewhere
in between because the moulds move slower than the continuous web machines
resulting in a less pronounced fiber orientation and thus less marked grain
direction.
It can be easily demonstrated that this is not true, that in fact grain in
mould and machine made papers is largely the result of the stretching of the
fiber mat as it passes through the machinery; the speed and directional force in
pressing the moving sheet largely determines the grain and its markedness.
There are several ways to test this. Take a square of a machine made paper,
determine and pencil mark the grain, and then wet the paper, hang it by an edge
parallel to the grain and then heavily weight the lower edge. Allow the paper
to dry. Retest for grain and you will find that you have modified the grain
of the sheet. Using this method you can impart a grain to otherwise grainless
handmade papers.
Another way to test this is to run a wetted sheet through an etching press,
the grain parallel to the rollers. You will again find that you have altered
the grain direction once the sheet has dried. I first became aware of this fact
in binding books containing etchings printed on handmade papers. The resulting
prints often showed a marked grain.
Lastly you can alter the grain direction of machine and mould made papers by
simply wetting them and allowing them to air dry several times, in effect
undoing the work of the finishing rollers.
This perhaps seems too obscure for this list but in fact has practical
applications. For example it would be nice if book artists took care to orient the
spine edge of their images parallel to the directional movement of the printing
machinery as applicable. In binding or rebinding books printed on papers with
the grain wrong, and when budget, paper type, and aesthetics allow, one can
use the repeated wet/dry process to vastly improve the opening qualities of the
book block.
I would imagine that paper and book conservators have noted these phenomenon
and my apologies if they have previously mentioned them on list.
Best, James

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