Across these, and consequently along the mould, the wires run, from fifteen to twenty in an inch. A strong raised wire is laid along each of the cross-bars, to which the other wires are fastened; this gives the laid wire its ribbed appearance. The water-mark is formed by sewing a raised piece of wire, in the form of letters, or any device that may be wished, on the wires of the mould, which makes the paper thinner in these places. The frame-work of a wove mould is nearly the same but, instead of sewing on separate wires, the frame is covered with fine wire-cloth, of from 48 to 64 wires in an inch. On both moulds a deckle, or movable raised edging, is used; this must fit very neatly, otherwise the edge of the paper will be rough. The felts are pieces of woollen cloth, spread over every sheet of paper, and upon which the sheets are laid, to detach them from the form, to prevent them from adhering together, to imbibe part of the water with which the stuff is charged, and to transmit the whole of it, when placed under the action of the press. The two sides of the felt are differently raised; that of which the hair is the longest is applied to the sheets which are laid down; and any alteration of this disposition would produce a change in the texture of the paper.
The stuff of which the felts are made should be sufficiently strong, in order that it may be stretched exactly in the sheets without forming into folds; and, at the same time, sufficiently pliant to yield to every direction, without injury to the wet paper. As the felts have to resist the reiterated efforts of the press, it appears necessary that the warp be very strong, of combed wool, and well twisted. On the other hand, as they have to imbibe a certain quantity of water, and to return it, it is necessary that the woof be of carded wool, and drawn out into a slack thread. After the stuff is ready, the workman takes one of the moulds, furnished with its frame, by the middle of the short sides, and fixing the frame round the wire-cloth with his thumbs, he plunges it obliquely four or five inches into the vat, beginning by the long side, which is nearest to him. After the immersion, he raises it to a level; by these movements he fetches up on the mould a sufficient quantity of stuff; and as soon as the mould is raised, the water escapes through the wire-cloth, and the superfluity of the stuff over the sides of the frame.
The fibrous parts of the stuff arrange themselves regularly on the wire-cloth, not only in proportion as the water escapes, but also as the workman favours this effect by gently shaking the mould; afterwards, having placed the mould in a piece of board, the workman takes off the frame or deckle, and glides it towards the coucher, who, having previously laid his felt, places it with his left hand in an inclined situation, on a plank fixed in the edge of the vat, and full of holes. During this operation the workman applies his frame, and begins a second sheet. The coucher seizes this instant, takes with his left hand the mould, now sufficiently dry, and laying the sheet of paper upon the felt, returns the mould, by gliding it along the trepan of the vat. They proceed in this manner, laying alternately a sheet and a felt till they have six quires of paper, which is called a post; and this they do with such swiftness, that in many sorts of paper two men make upwards of twenty posts in a day. When the last sheet of the post is covered with the last felt, the workmen about the vat unite together, and submit the whole heap to the action of the press. They begin at first to press it with a middling lever, and afterwards with a lever of great length.
After this operation another person separates the sheets of paper from the felts, laying them in a heap; and several of these heaps collected together are again put under the press. The stuff which forms a sheet of paper is received, as we have already said, in a form made of wire-cloth, which is more or less fine, in proportion to the stuff, surrounded with a wooden frame, and supported in the middle by many cross-bars of wood. In consequence of this construction, it is easy to perceive that the sheet of paper will take and preserve the impression of all the pieces which compose the form, and of the empty spaces between them. The traces of the wire-cloth are evidently perceived on the side of the sheet which was attached to the form, and on the opposite side they produce an assemblage of parallel and rounded risings. As in the paper which is most highly finished, the regularity of these impressions is still visible, it is evident that all the operations to which it is submitted have chiefly in view to soften these impressions without destroying them; it is of consequence, therefore, to attend to the combination of labour which operates on these impressions.
The coucher, in turning the form on the felt, flattens a little the rounded eminences which are in relievo on one of the surfaces, and occasions, at the same time, the hollow places made by the wire-cloth to be partly filled up; meanwhile, the effort which is made in detaching the form produces an infinite number of small hairs on every protuberant part of the sheet. Under the action of the press, first with the felts, and then without them, the perfecting of the grain of the paper still goes on. The vestiges of the protuberances made by the wires are altogether flattened, and, of consequence, the hollows opposite to them disappear also; but the traces formed by the interstices of the wire in consequence of their thickness, appear on both sides, and are rounded by the press. The paper, the grain of which is highly softened, is much fitter for the purposes of writing than that which is smoothed by the hammer; on the other hand, a coarse and unequal grain very much opposes the movements of the pen, as that which is beat renders them very uncertain.
The art of making paper, therefore, should consist in preserving, and, at the same time, in highly softening the grain.