Friday, May 28, 2010


So today for my Paper in the Scholarly World class, we got to take a field trip! Our professor somehow contacted a local guy who has converted his garage into a home paper mill (handmade paper, that is), and we all drove over to see it and got to make our own paper!

For those who are unfamiliar, there are 2 basic ways of hand-making paper: the Japanese method, and the Western method. They both involve the same basic tools/supplies, which are the following:

1. A paper mold, consisting usually of a wooden frame with a screen in the middle, and a removable top "frame" called the deckle. It sort of looks like a window screen with a picture frame on the top. In the Japanese method, the deckle is hinged onto the mold, and the screen is removable, and in the Western method the screen is attached to the mold and the deckle is completely removable.

2. A vat or tub filled with water and other stuff, which I will get to :)

3. Fibers. Any kind of fibers at all. In the Japanese method they use plant fibers from the paper mulberry plant, also called kozo. In the Western method you can use pretty much anything you want, from cotton to linen to corn to soybeans to daisies to dryer lint, if you can get enough of it. You also need something to grind up or macerate the fibers. Where we went today the guy has his own Hollander beater, a machine used to beat the fibers, but you can also use a blender or literally beat them with a big stick for a few hours. In the Japanese method you also need a binding agent; they use something from a plant called the tororo aoi (pronounced toe-roar-oh owie), but there are also chemical ones. By itself when it is mixed it looks kind of like very runny egg whites, it's completely clear and does not color the water or fibers at all.

4. In the Western method, you need felts. Literally, many many pieces of felt. You can cut up an old army blanket or use synthetic felt, but you need lots of them. You also need some kind of press, for reasons I will explain later.

5. In the Japanese method, you need a large board/flat surface on which to dry your sheets.

So after you have gathered your supplies, you are ready to make paper! Basically you beat the fibers until they are broken up into thousands of tiny little individual fiber strands. Then, you mix the fibers with lots of water in a tub, so it's like over 90% water in the tub. In the Japanese method you add the binding agent to the tub; in the Western method, you can add dyes to color the paper, or other things to decorate the paper, into your tub. After you have mixed the fibers in the water they will sort of float there, but you also need to mix them around every once in awhile so they do not all sink down to the bottom of the tub.

After you have mixed up your tub of "stuff" (also called "furnish"), you then take your paper mold and hold it upright in front of you. You then dip/scoop it towards you in the water, and then lift it straight out of the water. To clarify: at first you will be holding the mold vertically, but as you dip it you turn it horizontal (so it is a flat surface for the fibers to settle on as the water drains down through the screen). In the Japanese method you can continue dipping as many times as you want to get a thicker paper; in the Western method, you just dip once.

I found I much preferred the Japanese method! I dipped my piece 3 times, then removed the screen from the mold by lifting the deckle (or top part of the hinged mold) and pulling it out. They had this nifty contraption that was a vacuum attached to a wooden box with a small slit in the top. I pulled the screen across the slit twice to pull the excess moisture out from the piece of paper (though at this point it was still pretty damp). After you pull out that moisture the piece of paper is sturdy enough to handle, so I took it off the screen and then used a brush to stick it onto a large "white board" to dry!!

I then tried the Western method, where I dipped the mold in the same manner into the tub just once. Either the mold was dirty or I did not have the deckle on sturdy enough, because my sheet did not come out as perfectly straight around the edges as others' had. After that I "couched" my sheet (pronounced kooched) onto the "couch" (also pronounced kooch!). The "couch" is a pile of felts and papers next to where you are dipping your mold into the tub. You start with a pile of water-dampened felts (maybe 2 or 3) so the surface is soft. After that you sort of roll your paper mold with the freshly made paper sheet on it and press down so that it stays on the couch. You then put another wet felt on top of it, and continue couching in a pile until you are done! After that you press the pile, which is called a "post." This guy had a press in his garage but he said that you could also just pile on some heavy boards or books and stand on top of it, lol! This gets a lot of the excess water out of the sheets, which can then be air dried or dried between pieces of blotter (heavy paper or other substance).

So, basically, that is making paper! I hope I have explained it well :) this was also a great review for my midterm tomorrow, lol. I really enjoyed it so I hope I will be able to make some of my own paper in the near future. Below are some pictures, which I will number in order here:

1. The Hollander Beater

2. The Japanese Setup (notice the box with the slit where I vaccumed the water out, and the mold behind it!)

3. The Western Setup (the couch is under that small pile of newspaper, which wasn't supposed to be there lol)

4. Me putting my Japanese paper up to dry! My sheet is the one the brush is over!

5. My sheet of Western paper after being couched. You can see that it is a little rough around the edges, lol!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Wizarding World of the University of Illinois

I have found the entrance to the wizarding world, dear readers! Let your wildest Harry Potter fantasies come true at.......wait for it........U of I's library!! That's right, folks, simply by entering U of I's library stacks on floor 9.5 (you heard me right) you will be magically transported into the wizarding world, where you may contact Mr. Potter directly for assistance with any number of magical quandaries, including dementor attacks and where to find the latest Weasley's Wizard Wheezes products!

False. This will not actually happen if you go to U of I's library. lol but I was there yesterday and found it funny that there are many "half-levels" in the library stacks that the elevator also goes to.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spunky Dunkers!!

So this has been an awesome weekend!! It was one of my very good friends' birthday, so a friend and I drove to Chicago to attend her awesome beach birthday blowout! Here is a picture of my friend's dog sleeping on the car ride home: she was SO tired after playing on the beach with other people and doggies!!

After we came home from the birthday party we chilled at home for a little bit, then my brother came by to sell us some awesome kitchen knives. I bought an ice-cream scooper, though :) so after we bought some kick-butt knives, we decided we wanted to go to this place that my brother has been talking about FOREVER called Spunky Dunkers! It is a donut shop, and let me just address this really quick, Blogspot is telling me that I am spelling donuts wrong lol but is it doughnuts or donuts? I prefer donuts.

Anyway. So this place was SO GOOD!!!!!!!!! Seriously the best donuts I have EVER had, even though I'm not really a huge donut fan. I got a chocolate cream puff donut, a chocolate donut, a vanilla cake donut with chocolate frosting, and......oh yeah, a chocolate buttercream filled donut! Are you sensing a theme? I really enjoy chocolate. They also had a HUGE selection of donuts, including one that was like a Girl Scouts Samoa cookie (chocolate/coconut).

Below are pictures of Spunky Dunkers! I really enjoyed the whole dive-retro feel of it, from the 50's style sign outside (with many letters burned out!) to the counterspace diner-esque part inside. It was very tiny and super inexpensive, and smelled even better than Krispy Kreme. Seriously. That combined with it being open 24/7/basically 365 makes it pretty much my favorite thing about the suburbs.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Totally Adorable and Hilarious

As you may be able to tell from the timestamp on this entry, I am up rather late tonight :) But I was perusing some backlogged/bookmarked blogs and came across this one, called Letters With Character, that invites people to write letters to fictional characters. I thought this one was particularly amusing:

It is to Winnie the Pooh, and I think you should read it because it was super duper cute. There's also a great one to Werther from The Sorrows of Young Werther, a book I had to read for a German history class and really enjoyed. So check it out! :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins

1.) You have the chance to do something fun today!
2.) I am having lots of fun watching Numb3rs right now
3.) I want to have my student loan money disbursed so I can pay my rent and bills!
4.) Now I am a grad student, but hopefully later I will have an awesome job and be able to get on my own 2 feet!
5.) It's time to be the person I want to become
6.) My immediate future seems up in the air right now
7.) And as for the weekend, I am hanging out with my friends, going to Willow Creek Church tonight, and going to a BBQ tomorrow! :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mac VS PC?

Dear technically minded friends: I need your help!!!

Since I am going to be switching to U of I's online program in January, and will hopefully have a little extra loan money this summer/fall, I am thinking about buying a new computer or laptop, probably laptop. Though I have had no end of trouble with every single PC I have ever bought, I am hesitant about buying a Mac just because of the cost.! Which is better, Mac or PC? Which is cheaper? Is cheaper really better? I really want a Mac, so are there any discounts or anything on Macs that you know of? What about getting a netbook plus an external hard drive? Leave your comments please! :)

80's Rock!

Tomorrow, a friend and I are going to see an 80's cover band. But not just any 80's cover band. This cover band, my friends, is FANTASTIC!!

They are called 16 Candles, and they rock. Here is their website:

They are pretty fantastical. I have only seen them once before but it was super fun, and I am super excited! Ever since I watched that episode of Scrubs a few weeks ago where Turk keeps singing "I try to discover......a little something to make me sweeter......" I have had various 80's songs in my head, so this will be pretty great :)

What else....summer classes start in a couple of weeks so that should be fun. I also might be getting a new roommate....we will see how it goes!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pink Sparkly Heels

Things have been pretty quiet, but also exciting, for me lately. I finished my 1st semester of school and am visiting friends and family at home for a couple of weeks.

One exciting thing, however, was going bridesmaid dress shopping with my brother's fiancee and some of the other bridesmaids on Saturday! We found a dress that looked good on everyone, although I may have to alter mine to be just a teensy bit longer since (as you will see if I can find a picture!) it is a little shorter in the back than it is in the front, and it's pretty short to begin with. We don't want anyone getting flashed when I fall while walking down the aisle!! hahaha!!

In all honesty, though, I am so excited for my bro and his future wife! They are both super cool :) The dress she/we picked is totally her style, funky/adorable, and hot pink which is pretty fun. I don't know yet if I get to wear the black sparkly heels or the pink sparkly heels, but either way it will be interesting to see how that turns out! Maybe I will practice a lot and FINALLY learn to walk in heels, I tried them on and despite the height they are not bad at all!!

So here are some pictures I have found of the dress/heels. I can't find pictures of the exact ones from the exact store, because for some reason this store apparently does not exist in Google's world (lol), but the dress looks kind of like this black one but the color of this pink one, and the heels look pretty similar to the ones below (only with a pink option also!). What do you think? Should my brother wear a tux or go buy a suit? I'm rooting for him and his groomsmen to go buy nice suits, they're all young but also done growing so if they buy nice suits they will last them quite awhile, there are many occasions coming up where I'm sure it will be good to have one! Either way, I'm sure the boys and the girls will all be lookin' fly come September :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tony Nominations Tuesday!

Today, dear readers, is a special day, for today the 2010 Tony Awards nominees were announced!! You can check out the full list of nominees here:

I must say that unfortunately I am not nearly as excited about this year's nominees as I was about last year's, perhaps because last year I got to take a trip to New York and see many of the shows/performances that were nominated. I am excited to see the new Green Day-based musical American Idiot perform, though. Other surprises for me include The Addams Family not being nominated in the category of Best Musical, and Sean Hayes being nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor for his role in the revival of Promises, Promises but Kristen Chenoweth NOT getting nominated for Leading Actress for the same show.

However, the Tonys are always an interesting show (...for dorks like me!), so it should be fun to see the variety of performances, including Chicago's own original cast of Million Dollar Quartet!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Homework Help

There are all kinds of ways to get help with one's homework. You could ask your teacher/professor for help after class, or go to their office hours. You could get the TA or another student to tutor you. You could form a study group, ask the ipl2, or use your local public library to get help.

And then there are cats. lol :)