Saturday, June 25, 2016

Papermaking with Plants

When the day's lovely, hot, not too humid, sunny, some people think ah, the shore (what we call the beach in NJ), some people think ah, the garden, and some of us think, ah, wave Handsome Son off to the shore, then clean up the garden and use the foliage resulting to make paper!

So here is some of today's haul.  

Iris leaves (there's now a large bag of them in the freezer awaiting the papermaker's pleasure, this is why I had to buy a chest freezer), green and ripe, and daylily foliage, dried and papery.  

It's labor intensive to make paper from plant material, but great fun to have the raw materials right there in the yard waiting.

The daylily leaves are now all cut up ready to cook for quite a while with washing soda, which helps break down the fibers to a useful level. Then they'll be beaten in the blender, and with any luck I'll have pulp to make a sheet or two of paper with them. You need tons of plant material, since it cooks down, and I probably should have thought of this before I took an armload of daylily foliage out to scatter in the woods.

Same process with the iris leaves.  These are both pretty good for papermaking, and you can mix other fibers with them, such as abaca fiber or cotton linters, both of which I have, but may or may not use this time.

If you like the idea of doing this, here's a beautiful book, lovely to handle and browse through even if you never actually make any paper! I love everything about this book, from the fonts they chose, to the colors, the layout and the friendly text.  It gets technical here and there, but not too much for the non chemists among us, which would be me.

This is what you do after you recover from the emotional down that comes with the end of an exhibit.  Except that I've been invited into a couple of others, so that's nice.  And I have a firm sale and a couple more possible sales from the exhibit, always a cheering note. But anyway, this is very different from the work I've been doing for a while.

Papermaking involves a lot of water and messing about with pulp, great fun, best done out on the patio in good weather. In fact you can do it in the rain, paper doesn't care, but the maker might get a bit wet in the process.

I learned papermaking many years ago,in a great course with Joan Needham, and built my own mold and deckle, use pretty simple stuff for a vat and a cooking pot.  I've taught it to various groups, too, loads of fun. You can't do it wrong.

And I can probably use some of those natural dyes I've had in the freezer all this time, to color the pulp.


Asha Francis said...

I love to see all the new projects you get up to! You are a creative inspiration!

Boud said...

Asha, I love to see you in here!! I miss you when you get busy with other things. You know the cowl you sent me? I can't tell you how much I wore it in winter and our cold I thought of you many times. That support keeps me go!

margaret said...

interesting I have made paper with paper but never tried plant material, maybe I will pick some leaves from the garden and dry them