When we think of making paper, we often think of "sheet formation." In Western papermaking, a mould and deckle are used in combination with a paper slurry to produce sheets of pulp that are dried into paper. The slurry can be created of traditional plant fibers like cotton or repurposed materials like military fatigue uniforms. Once the fiber is decided, inclusions such as thread or petals can be added to the slurry. Special moulds and deckles can create custom shaped paper, too. Handmade paper often lends a softer surface for printing, and as such, you might see deeper embossings of metal type or plate marks, or ink might behave a little differently from commercially produced papers. The sheet formation gallery shows examples of different printmaking media on handmade paper.
A sheet of paper may look plain, but holding it up to the light might reveal an interesting emblem. A watermark is historically used by papermakers as a signature or signal of authenticity. You might notice a watermark on bank checks, currency, or contemporary art papers such as Rives BFK or Fabriano. Artists who make paper for their books sometimes use watermarks to engage the reader in another layer of content. The watermark is created during the sheet formation process when a low-relief image is attached to the mould. This causes the image area to be thinner than the rest of the page, so when the paper is held up to light, more light shines through the thinner area enabling you to see the watermark.
Pulp paintings are created with very fine pulp that has been pigmented. The pulp can be applied in a painterly manner directly to a base sheet during the sheet formation process. Stencils and masks can be used to help create a repeatable image. The wet sheet is then allowed to dry. The paper may stand alone as a final pulp painting artwork, or the pulp painting may be one element of a more complicated final work.
Paper casting is generally created with paper during its wet stage. A freshly pulled sheet of wet pulp could be formed and laid over a mold to create a cast. This could be as simple as laying wet sheets into a muffin tin to create little paper cups, or it could be a more complicated sculptural process. This process takes the paper from being a flat sheet to a three dimensional sculpture. Another method of creating a paper casting is by pushing wet pulp into a mold, extracting the water (by sponge, for example), and repeating that process until the mold is filled, then allowed to dry.