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  1. I've developed a method for making paneled sails from paper that works nicely to simulate the three-dimensional texture of a sail. It seems to offer a lot of visual interest, more so than a flat sail, and the procedure is pretty manageable. I like paper sails for several reasons: they hold their shape better than cloth sails (including a natural bellied curve), they have a nice texture (especially when colored by pastels), and there's no need for complicated or careful sewing. In this topic I'll walk through the method I worked out so far, starting with making the panels themselves. I haven't seen much else about paper sails on MSW, so hopefully this is of interest to some folks. I first tried paper sails on my 18th century longboat build and was quite happy with the result. In that case, I just used a flat sheet of paper and drew on the seams and stitches. It worked, but was too flat. For my current build of a US Revenue Cutter, I decided to try making sails the prototypical way, assembling them from long panels of material joined at the edges. I first asked for guidance in another sail-making thread, which produced a lot of good ideas and guidance. This guide to sail-making from the Historic Naval Ships Association was a particularly useful suggestion, as it's chock full of detailed diagrams for the arrangement of panels and the overall design of sails for different craft. Following these guides, I made a few sails and was very pleased, so I finally put in the time to document each step of the process for the foresail of my revenue cutter. Here's what these sails look like on that model: Cutting & Assembling Panels I used bond paper, which is heavier and more textured than regular printer paper. This is commonly used for printing theses; my supply came from leftovers of Mrs. Cathead's graduate thesis. Beware of watermarks in bond paper; you don't want your sail advertising a paper company when you shine a light on it! As shown above, I mark a sheet of bond paper in scale 2' strips, then cut the strips on a small paper-cutter. Using a dedicated fine brush, I run a narrow strip of basic wood glue along the edge of each strip, then lay it out on the edge of a neighbor strip. A glue stick might work too, but I've been fine using this method. Repeating this process produces a nice 3D-textured shape from which you can cut the final sail pattern. Make sure you pay attention to the direction in which you lay out the strips; I did one of my sails backward (so that the seams ran counter to the other sails) and had to start over because it looked funny. Above, you can already see how the overlapped panels create more visual interest than a plain, smooth sail. Next, I cut and attach any corner reinforcement panels. Then I cut thinner strips for the edging of the sails, and fold them in half. Then I brush glue along the inner surface of each one, and carefully fold it in place along the sail's edges. There are several ways to do this: you can brush 1/2 of the strip, glue it on, then brush on the other 1/2 and fold it over; or you can brush the whole inner surface at once. Although the former approach sounds better in theory, I've found that the moisture in the glue causes the paper to buckle, so that if you do the 1/2 approach, the strip bends out of true and is really hard to align on the sail's edge. If you glue the whole thing, it stays straight and is easier to handle. Incidentally, the same buckling-when-wet property works to your advantage in the sail overall; as the moisture dries between the panels, the sail inevitably takes on a bit of a curve, which nearly perfectly mimics the gently belly of a sail with wind in it. I also cut any reef-point strips and attach these. Once the sail is fully assembled, I color it with artist's pastels. You can use your finger or a cotton swab to gently rub on color; the paper takes up the color wonderfully, and it really brings out the texture of the bond paper. The 3D nature of the assembly helps, too, as the pastel powder naturally collects a bit along seams and highlights the structural elements of the sail. You can use a mix of colors to get just the appearance you want. One important warning: don't rub too hard, and hold the sail flat. A downside of paper vs. cloth is that paper creases; if you rub too hard or otherwise force the paper to bend or kink, you'll never get that feature out again. Some folks may want to use some kind of fixative on the color, but I've never bothered; the bond paper holds pastel really well on its own. Just be careful about handling the sail with fingers coated in pastel; you don't want to leave a dark fingerprint smudge somewhere. That's the first stage. You could stop here for a basic version, but I went ahead and added boltropes and reef points, which I'll cover in the next few posts.