Sunday, June 26, 2016

Daylily papermaking complete

Perfect weather to complete the daylily foliage papermaking caper.  I cooked the foliage, which I'd cut down to small pieces, in a big enamel pot, with some washing soda to help break down the fibers.  

The cooking, with testing every now and then to see if the fibers were broken down enough to work as pulp, took about three hours. You test by getting a strand of foliage out, rinsing, then gently pulling to see if it comes apart between your thumbs without a struggle.

Then I rinsed the pulp thoroughly to make sure the washing soda was gone, so that it wouldn't go on weakening the fibers, and used my blender for the beating sequence, ending with a nice vat of pulp. This vat is just a kitchen dish washing pan, kept for paper only.

 This is a sheet of paper on the mold, draining a bit before I turn it onto a felt and use the mold for the next sheet. As you see, the pulp's a rich brown, but it won't be that color when the paper is dry. I made the mold from an old picture frame, stapled with screening, simple tool.  The deckle is the other bit of the frame, which sits on the mold.  When you scoop up pulp onto the mold, you have to have the screening side uppermost, as you see here, or the pulp won't release.

Then I used a mold, but didn't use a deckle this time, wanted a freer edge to the sheets, and couched a post of paper on felts. The felts, which is a technical term, doesn't mean they're made of felt, are Pellon interfacing, great stuff, releases the paper nicely, washes up easily ready for the next adventure.

The water left in the vat after all the pulp is used up should never go down the sink.  Papermaking fiber can clog up your plumbing before you know it.  Always toss it outdoors.  It's harmless if you don't use toxic dyes and additives, which I don't. Live plants don't mind it.  And when you rinse the pulp, best do it in a big strainer lined with cheesecloth, so you don't lose pulp down the sink as you rinse.

Then, the post of paper done, I took the tray of dripping pulp and felts outside, squeezed a lot of the water out by standing on the post (that's the term for a series of sheets) of paper, and letting the water run out on the deck.  Harmless since it's only daylily fiber and water. This is why it's nice to do this on a hot summer day when you don't mind a bit of water around.

Then I set the sheets out separately to dry slightly on the felts. The tray you see bottom left is what I used to collect the felts as I worked, then to carry the lot outside.  There's a lot of water involved, and you don't want it all over, so this roasting pan, used only for paper, is just the thing. It's turned over to dry out here.

Then I slapped off the sheets onto the outside of the patio window. This is like the old trick of ironing small items by putting them wet on the mirrors. The paper dries nice and flat, and you can peel it off once dry. It won't fall off the glass though, so it stays until you remember to take it off. Picture taken from inside to show the translucence starting to happen.

I've been wanting to make paper this summer, and this sort of crept up on me, but really happy to have used up old dead foliage instead of discarding it.  Also the place looks neater now. I  cleaned up the daylilies I planted years ago by the dumpster, and they now look a lot better, just the live foliage and blossoms, no dead stuff there. It's all on my window now.

So a post of about a dozen sheets took about an armload of foliage, roughly.  As you see from the color around the edges of the drying sheets, it will be more of a gold than the dark brown in the vat. This is paper you use as art material, unsized so you wouldn't paint on it, or it would probably dissolve.  It's art in itself, though, not intended for writing on like commercial paper.  You can size your own paper if you like, but I usually don't since I need to use it other ways.

This is loads of fun to do with kids, if you do the cooking part for them. They can help gather foliage, and they can definitely learn to form sheets and they love slapping off onto the windows! ask me how I know this..

These pieces have a destination, at least a couple of them, in an upcoming group exhibit.  At least once dry and made into  actual artworks, and framed and all that.

I still have loads of iris foliage to play with, once I recover from this session.  The true frugal artist at work.   Very labor intensive, but the process is as important as the product to the maker.


  1. fascinating tute! never mind kids slapping stuff on window, I'd love that too, then realized I'm in my second childhood after all.... who knew it would be such fun!

  2. this hs worked so well and liking the colour now dry

  3. You come up with the most interesting things - this is a new one on me so it was fascinating to read the how to's. I won't be doing any myself (can just imagine the hue and cry that would go up from DH should I be using the windows he works so hard to clean for drying paper).


Thank you so much for commenting! it means a lot to me to know you're out there and reading and enjoying.