Mould and deckle making
The making of moulds and deckles for the production of handmade paper.
|Craft category||Wood, metal|
|Historic area of significance||Maidstone, Kent|
|Area currently practised|
|Origin in the UK||18th century|
|Current no. of professionals (main income)||0|
|Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
|Current no. of trainees||0|
|Current total no. serious amateur makers
|Current total no. of leisure makers
|Minimum no. of craftspeople required|
E Amies Ltd (later Amies & Son Ltd) was created around 1793 by Edwin Amies, and was specialised in the making of paper moulds, dandy rolls and bank note moulds. Located on Chancery Lane in Maidstone, Kent, it supplied paper mills in UK and Europe. Ron MacDonald’s father and a colleague who were working as mould makers at Green, Son & Waite in London, bought the Amies company in the 1940s.
After moving to Maidstone, Ron started to learn mould making when he was 16 years old, undergoing a five year apprenticeship. At the time, moulds and deckles were mainly supplied to paper mills, manufacturing sheets of high quality paper for stationery and arts. Daily production on the moulds sometimes reaching up to 1,500 sheets a day.
Ron later ran the company himself before closing it around the mid eighties. He then moved the various tools, jigs and the loom to his house near Maidstone, where he kept making moulds. Over the years, Ron made moulds for paper mills, paper makers, artists, book binders and universities. In total, since 1985, Ron made more than 650 moulds and deckles, shipped in UK, Europe, the USA or Australia.
- Woodworking with specific joints
- Cutting and planing the bars
- Shaping the deckle
- Setting up the loom
- Weaving the backing
- Sewing the covers
- Watermark making
- Watermark making – there are two types of watermarks: clear watermarks with bent wires following a design or simply letters, and embossed watermarks in which the design is embossed in the mesh of a woven cover.
- Dandy roll making – Woollard & Henry Ltd, Aberdeen
- Cylinder mould cover making – Portals Paper, Overton
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
- There is still a demand for good quality traditionally made moulds. A lot of people make moulds with modern materials and simplified wooden frames, but real moulds, and specially laid moulds, are really rare. People reproducing old papers can only do this using moulds made the way they were made at the time.
Craftspeople currently known
- Ron Macdonald was the last mould maker in the UK. Ron passed away at his home near Maidstone in November 2017.
The only known person trained by Ron who is currently practising is Serge Pirard in Belgium. Claudine Latron, in France, also visited Ron several times. John Gerard makes moulds in Germany. Timothy Moore in the US was making moulds but has now stopped. There are also some mould makers in the Nordic countries.
The last companies to have made moulds in UK were Green, Son & Waite in London and Edwin Amies and Son Ltd in Maidstone. Green, Son & Waite was bought by Woollard & Henry, still manufacturing industrial paper making equipment today in Scotland.