Deckle Edge

Part of any handmade paper

Description of a picture
Handmade paper ~ showing deckle edges ~ on the lower and on the right

A characteristic of handmade papers is the roughness of the edges. Paper pulp is formed into a rectangle in a wooden frame ~ a deckle. As the pulp fibres dry out to make the sheet of paper they shrink away from the edges. The amount of shrinkage varies by a few millimetres along the edges, and this causes an unevenness. For some purposes this edge is cut away with a knifeor guillotine and the strip is wasted. Usually the deckle edge is kept as a demonstration of an artisan product. If some of the edges are not deckled edges then they will have been cut by some other means ~ such as a paper knife. (It is not at all easy to cut well-made paper with a blunt paper knife!)

Description of a picture
A handful of deckle edge corners

The paper edges, especially while wet ~ during manufacture ~ are easily damaged, and other marks can get made. Many papers papers are dried with clips on lines, and the clip often leaves a small mark. Sometimes a small hem is formed ~ when dried it leaves a double edged strip over a centimetre or two. These are all part of the handmade finish ~ although not strictly caused by the deckle. Purchasers should be prepared to accept what may be perceived as these slight deficiencies. They vary considerably from sheet to sheet ~ possibly reflecting the skill of the craftspeople who made it.

Another confusion over deckle edges arises when edges are torn. These give the appearance of deckle edges, but experience will show they are not the same thing. Sheets of paper once torn into smaller sizes are sometimes ~ incorrectly ~ described as deckle-edged. To avoid this confusion I have coined the word cobble-edged [121970].

If you look at the sheets in the upper picture you may notice some slight wrinkles ~ along the edges ~ that extend several cm inwards to the paper. This edge-warping is another feature of handmade papers, for which the drying process is impossible to control strictly. If this, or any other 'fault' already described, is inappropriate for your needs then it is better to choose machine made paper. I have prepared some illustrated notes on glitches that arise with handmade paper [124109].

Description of a picture
A fault on the edge of a sheet ~ probably caused by the clothes peg at hanging time

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Last updated 2020~0828