Bullard Art Students Try Their Hand At Papermaking

Students listen to the instructions on how to make paper pulp.

Third grade art students at Bullard Elementary School got their hands wet and dove right in to learn about the art of papermaking, creating their own sheets using shredded paper and other materials, May 16.

Guest artist, Lovona Brantley, along with Bullard Art Teacher Liz Kauffmann led the students through the process, which included using pieces of different-colored paper mixed in water to create a “slurry” or pulp. Students added extra material like glitter, various spices like oregano and turmeric, and plant material like rose petals and grass clippings to the mixture to give it additional color and accents. Students poured the blend into vats of water, and the miniature artists stirred it all together.

Armed with embroidery hoops anchoring a stretched piece of fine mesh screen, students submerged the hoops into the vat and pulled them out of the water, filling them with a layer of their colorful pulp.

Student Marielle said that she didn’t mind getting wet.

“I love papermaking because it’s so fun and sort of messy, and messy always means fun!”

Another student, Zach, felt the same way about being hands-on with this art project.

“It’s fun because it is creative. You get your hands dirty. You never know how it is going to turn out. I like the way you put your hands in the water and bring the paper pulp out on the screen,” said Zach. “That is why I like papermaking.”

Waiting for the paper to dry was probably the hardest part for the students, as the paper had to lie on a drying rack for a day before students were able to embellish their handmade sheets with doilies and drawings. The finished piece was glued to a cardboard frame for display.

“I like papermaking, but it is really hard,” said Tareah. “I like it because when you are done, you made something super cool!”

“Papermaking was fun because we dipped the net into the paper pulp and sponged the extra water out,” said Alex. “It was amazing how the paper was formed!”

Brantley, who is an accomplished artist, teacher, and former owner of Acworth Gallery, teaches in the After School Program (ASP) at Bullard and other Cobb County School District (CCSD) elementary schools. She said she wants students to understand and appreciate principles of art and design.

“The process of creating artwork increases a student’s ability to learn in creative ways, which increases competence and confidence to think through and communicate ideas effectively,” said Brantley. “These are essential qualities required to succeed in our fast-paced and ever-changing world.”

Student Owen was not concerned with all that. He just loved the activity.

“It was so much fun, and the stuff was very squishy and cool. It taught you how you can shred paper and make it into paper again,” he said.