Frequently Asked Questions
How is the site organised? Effectively there are three main sections:
- the Blog in the main panel which will probably mostly consist of Featured Moulds as I add them. You can click on images in the Blog to enlarge them
- the Photo Albums at the bottom right, organised by mould number. There are usually 1 to 4 images in each album. These images cannot be enlarged due to Typepad limitations
- Catalogue - a rich text attachment which lists all the moulds in the collection with dimensions, details of whether laid or wove, maker and date (when known), condition and price. There are about 200 pairs of moulds in the catalogue but at the time of writing only 7 are in the albums and I only plan to upload about 100 of them. If there is a mould you urgently want to see photographs of, email me and I will add them to the Albums; this may take a few days.
Note The Search facility is not as comprehensive as I would like and in particular will not find any text in the Photo Albums. TypePad say they will be addressing this in the future
I would like to see images of a particular mould in the Catalogue but it is not listed yet. Can you upload these images please? Yes, just post a comment or send me an email and I will do as soon as I can; please be patient. I have photos of about 60 pairs of moulds, usually 3 or more of each pair. I am uploading them more or less in Catalogue order but it is quite slow so it could take months. I am happy to add them out of order when requested.
Why is there vegetation around the edges of some of the moulds? My moulds are stored in a barn which has limited lighting. After I had been taking pictures for a while I realised that flash was not helping the images but exposures indoors were usually too slow without flash. So many of the pictures were then taken out of doors propped up against a grassy background. My Photoshop skills are pretty limited so I can't crop out all the vegetation. It's hard enough getting the images more or less square, not askew and without barrel distortion and as you will see I don't always succeed at that. Many of the images have been taken with the camera's built in flash and where I have got too close to the moulds there is a part circular shadow cast by the barrel of the lens.
Why do you refer to pairs of moulds? Commercial handmade papermils in Europe usually had moulds in sets comprising two moulds and one removable deckle (which retained the stuff on the mould during formation). The vatman used one mould with the deckle, passing the mould only to the coucher. The coucher at the same time passed the second mould (from which he had just couched a sheet) back to the vatman. Some moulds have two deckles, either to make different weights or for producing slightly different sizes. In a few cases there is a single mould with or without a deckle. I also have thirteen odd deckles which for some reason have no matching moulds.
Can I buy any of the moulds on your website? Yes, most of them are for sale. Download Mould catalogue 1 March 2011
Why is the lettering in some moulds a mirror image and sometimes reads normally? In England the actual lettering on the watermark on the mould is usually a mirror image so that when the paper is formed the lettering reads correctly from the wire side. In mainland Europe the lettering is normally the right way round on the mould and so the watermark reads correctly from the felt side. Furthermore with printing and ledger papers, watermarks can be differently shown in different parts of the sheet so that they always read correctly when looking, for example, through the right hand pages. It is a matter of doing what the customer preferred or, more often, what was conventional in their country.
What were the moulds made of? In England the main frame of the moulds was made of mahogany; Honduras mahogany was said to be the best. Mahogany is a hard, strong and stable wood that does not warp, shrink or crack when dried out after being soaking wet. In other parts of Europe, oak and other timbers were often used. The ribs which support the wire were usually made out of yellow pine (which could be one of a number of species). Pine is lighter than mahogany and did not need to be quite so strong as this was not the main structure. The underneath of the mould frame was reinforced with box wood inserts as it was subject to abrasion when slid across supporting surfaces. Parts of the mould and deckle were clad with brass and copper sheet. The corners of the moulds were reinforced on the bottom with brass corner pieces. The wire was usually made out of phosphor bronze. There is quite a lot of variation from these norms depending on local practice and experimentation. I have a mould with stainless steel mesh and one where the boxwood has been replaced with nylon.
How was paper made by hand at Hayle Mill? Just watch this - How paper was made at Hayle Mill in 1976 A short film, made by Anglia TV, describing all the processes in making fine paper including a section devoted to making and fitting a watermark to a mould.
Do you have any tips for photographing moulds? – I always seem to get moiré effects with the wire. I also have had trouble with moiré patterns etc. I always check pix as soon as I take them and if necessary enlarge them. If there’s a problem I move back or forward a bit and re-zoom or sometimes take at a slightly different angle. You usually only get moiré if the two interfering grid patterns are very similar dimensionally or one is a multiple of another (this can arise when the cover wire of a double faced laid mould interferes with the backing wire). Nevertheless some of my images do still have patterns. One of the main problems has been whether or not to use flash which has varied and also barrel distortion, not being square in one dimension or another. A lot of this can, and has, been corrected with PhotoShop Elements – this is the cut down version. I am now on v 8. The new version v 9 costs about £60. Elements is very good including adjusting exposure. Most pictures have been taken with my Olympus E-500 DSLR which I have been very pleased with. I bought it to record the restoration and conversion of Hayle Mill and at the time it seemed much better to me than the Canon and Nikon equivalents; it seemed more robust and ergonomically design.