Friday, January 23, 2015

Sometimes "Made in America" Just Doesn't Work

European Kraft Paper Now Available Here
I live in Southern California, so everything I see in stores must come in from China through Los Angeles.  In truth I don't ever go shopping for anything except food, but I can easily imagine a continuous line of cargo ships crossing the ocean from LA to China.  There must be enough of them that it might be possible to just walk there from ship to ship?

All my life I have preferred local and domestic production to imported.  Except cheese...

However, in my chosen profession, I have found items in France which I cannot find here.  Veneer nails for example.  Sawn veneer is another.  And, for some unknown reason, Kraft paper.

In Pierre's book there is no mention of Kraft paper or making and using an Assembly Board to make marquetry.  When I arrived at ecole Boulle for the first time and observed students working on projects building face down on stretched paper, I saw the "light bulb" over my head.

Like most marquetry workers in countries outside France, I thought you worked from the front and used either glue or veneer tape to hold everything together.  Just like others who have discovered the problems this causes, I had several projects ruined since the press put uneven pressure on the different layers of tape and allowed the thin veneer to buckle under areas where there was no pressure.  The other problems in working from the front with tape is that the work is covered up and you can't see what you are making.

Pierre did not include any information on Kraft paper since it is such a basic component of the French process.  It is simply assumed that everyone knows about it.

I have posted before on building Assembly Boards, so use the search function to research this.

The first day of class here at the American School of French Marquetry I spend time introducing students to the glue and materials used, including Kraft paper.  I can see in their expressions the doubt and surprise when I show them a piece of paper and say, "You cannot find this paper in America."

This is the minimum Order!

In Europe Kraft paper is everywhere.  If you buy fish, bread or flowers, the store merchant wraps it in Kraft paper.  If you buy a kilo of shellac or pumice stone or sandarac, it is wrapped in Kraft paper.

Kraft paper is made the old fashioned way: by layering paper pulp in solution.  I remember once in 8th grade I decided to make paper for a term paper.  I filled up my mother's washing machine with water, glue and paper pulp and made paper, including my own watermark.  I got an "A" and a good beating.

Kraft paper is shiny on one side and dull on the other.  That's one of the secrets.  The shiny side resists water and glue and the dull side absorbs water.  By wetting the shiny side it expands in all dimensions.  Gluing it to a flat board around the edges and letting it dry makes it shrink and pull tight.  All elements of the marquetry are then glued to the paper with hot hide glue, face down.  You cannot imagine the advantage this provides for working with small pieces until you try it.

The mastic is easily applied after all the pieces are in place and any unevenness of veneer thickness is sanded down flush from the back (glue side).  Finally the picture is cut away from the Assembly Board and glued to the project, with the Kraft paper on top.  After the glue is dry the Kraft paper is wetted and dissolves easily so you can remove all the paper and glue from the front.

Of course all the veneer is even and flat since it was built face down on a flat board surface.


I have imported rolls of Kraft paper from Raja in France, but there is a minimum order and the shipping costs exceed the paper costs.  That is why I sell it for $3/yard to students.

Now one of my students, Wes Highfill has spend the money to bring in several rolls.  Since he is located in the Middle States area, shipping is probably cheaper to the East Coast.  In any event he is now selling Kraft paper for $3/yard as well.  Both of us use and sell the 90gm/square meter weight.  This is best for our purpose.

Here is his blog: Kraft Paper For Sale Here

1 comment:

Federico said...

Nice post. We call it simply wrapping paper. Not to be confused with the white one that it is shiny on one side and the other porous. I would remember other types of paper. The economic wrapping paper that is used for the sketches and the preparatory drawing, the white tissue paper to transfer the drawings, the tape of gummed paper and the paper tape thin white rubber for veneers.