I've been able to use some really high end moulds - numbered with laid surfaces and ribs and sewing and brass corners and they were a dream to cast with. It's not just hype.

Yes, you can stretch fiberglass screen across a plastic embroidery hoop -- and my 10" circular paper for the treewhispers project was best accomplished this way.

If you are ever making more than 3 piece of paper at a time, you will want a better mould and a good deckle--- a surface that won't sag, a surface that drains evenly , a structures that stays out of the way of sheet formation.

But what I own is very basic--heat shrink surfaces, polypropylene on wood. I also invested in two small high-density plastic molds - one custom (9" by 5") and one standard, (7" by 5") and these, too are just dreamy. The larger the mould, the more expensive it is, and the cost rises geometrically to unaffordable amounts, once you get beyond 8.5" by 11" and 11" by 14"

I love the look and feel of the 40 mesh brass I found at a great price from http://www.buymesh.com but now that I've found a comparatively low cost source -- which mesh is best? I bought 40 mesh mimicking what I read that LSM has in their custom moulds. It was $5 a foot. (vs. $18 a foot from the papermaking house). And I also obtained 8 by 8 brass backing wire, but not much as I wasn't sure that was the way to go....

But why 40 vs 30 or 60 or 80 mesh? And for backing wire how dense or spread should that be?

Could I mix metals-- put aluminum backing behind my fine brass top screen are there potential reactions? And in terms of metals-- what are the advantages to stainless steel vs brass vs aluminum?

The woods I have read about being used for the good moulds are: Mahogany, kiln dried White Oak, Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine for ribs, Baltic Birch plywood.

Though one would think the fruit woods, as they use in glass blowing, would be best. The fruit woods are used for the shaping/forming tools because they withstand the wet/heat/steam the best... so kind of surprised that I don't see them mentioned in the paper catalogs.

"Custom moulds and Deckles are made of straight grained Honduras Mahogany with clear Ponderosa Pine Ribs. The dove tailed corners on the mo uld are fastened with wooden pegs and high-strength waterproof glue. After assembly, the ribs of the mould are hand shaped to a slightly convex curve. All surfaces are hand sewn to these ribs. Exposed edges are trimmed with a brass strip fastened to the mold with brass escutheon pins. The deckle is joined with a special overlapping tenon joint.."

"Simple" moulds are made of kiln-dried white oak with a fitted honduras mahogany deckle. Finger joints are used for extra strength.The underside of the deckle is routed to assure true alignment to the mould.

"Apprentice Moulds are made with 1 by 3/4 inch mahogany stock with finger joints in the corner and rounded bottom edges. The ribs are 3/8 inch aluminum tubing. Deckles have tenon joints for a maximum strength.

So I'm thinking about a hybrid--aluminum dowels, the appropriate wood , 40 mesh brass top surface and 8 by 8 mesh brass for the backing if I can find it for less than $35.73 per square foot.


Though I just ran across another model (Twinrockers) for a 22" by 30".... the mould is made by 1 by 2 with a 1/4" by 1" and 1-1/8" lath, non rusting drywall screws hold it together, and plastic egg crate is placed in the mold instead of ribs on top of which two layers of different mesh aluminum cloth is placed and stapled and then sewn.

I would have bought aluminum, but it cost more than the 40 mesh brass (which is superior in this application). But the heavy gauge brass -- the 8 by 8 brass is $36/ft or 6 by 6 polyester is $31/ft.

I am attempting to create other moulds using ballusters-- the silk screening boards/frames. I bought an arrow t-50 staple gun and have stainless steel staples. I have rubbed linseed oil on them to make them water resistant. I'm also in the process of creating a mould from the "best" stretchers (the notched wood boards used to stretch canvases). I've rubbed linseed oil into them and will staple my brass mesh and brass support structure to them.

I bought paper mill screening from Canada -- 41" by 81" (was supposed to be 39" by 78", but who's complaining) arrived yesterday--at a cost far less expensive than what I have been able to find so far in the states.

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