Sunday, June 19, 2016

Papeterie Saint-Armand

We are fortunate to have in Montreal a renowned maker of artisanal papers, Papeterie St-Armand, located at 3700 St-Patrick Street, a few blocks from the Atwater Market. Their unassuming entrance, a yellow door positioned below ground level in a huge, old industrial building, gives no hint of the wonders inside: papers speckled and striped, smooth and rough, in every colour of the rainbow. 

Our text'art group was lucky enough to be given a tour by David Carruthers, who founded the paper mill in 1979. He explained that all his paper is made of rags, off-cuts from manufacturers of clothing and bed linens. The cloth remnants are chopped into little bits before being beaten into pulp. The colour of the rags determines the colour of the paper.  The black paper, made from black denim, is favoured for photo albums.

Other materials used include jute, linen, sisal, and occasionally leaves. Many of the papers are available for sale in small, postcard-sized bundles, or bound as notebooks and sketchbooks.

textile off-cuts, chopped
While we did see some technicians hand-screening paper, most of the production comes off the assembly line, powered by a machine made in Edinburgh, 1949.

A corner of the plant is sectioned off and filled with drawer after drawer of metal type. Printing can be done to order for posters, wedding invitations, book covers, etc.

Papeterie St-Armand stages special events on the last Saturday of every month, from 10 am to 1 pm. Check the bulletin section of their website to see just what will be presented: monotype printing, hand-screening, or the opportunity to bring your own media and try them out on a variety of papers. Papers of all kinds may be purchased during business hours, 9 am - 5 pm, Monday - Friday.

A 5-minute video made at the Papeterie St-Armand and showing its manufacturing process is available here: