Friday, October 31, 2008

Papermaking from Plants

Bird of Paradise plant

Cooked and washed Bird of Paradise fibers on a wooden cutting board, ready for the beating process.

These lovely handmade papers are made entirely from a Bird of Paradise plant. I harvested the stalks and leaves, cut them up into pot sized lengths and cooked the plant pieces in water with 1/4 cup washing soda for about 6 hours.
After the cooking, I washed the fibers till they came clean using a paint strainer and then beat the fibers with a wooden mallot on a wooden cutting board. Beating the fibers took approximately 3 hours.
After beating, the fibers were further pulverized in a kitchen blender and finally poured into a papermaking vat, then using my screen and deckle, lifted into sheets of paper and transferred onto glass windows to dry.
There are many things to do with papers like these. I like to use them in bookbinding and when making my handmade paper journals. I also use the papers for making three dimensional sculptures, when I do my cast paper pieces- I take dampened sheets of paper or straight paper pulp and press into a plaster of paris mould. I also love to combine my basketry and papermaking; one technique is to dip a freshly woven basket into a vat of paper pulp, as the paper pulp dries it shrinks into all of the indents from the pattern of the weave creating sort of a tight outer skin. The effect is very interesting, it makes the vessel look like it was dug from some ancient ruin. I also prepare the papers with photo sensitive chemicals and print my photographs onto the papers, this technique can get real interesting and I'm still experimenting with different types of alternative photo techniques.
I've been working hard on my botanical photo series which many of will be printed on papers made from all different plants.

1 comment:

Robin Maria Pedrero said...

Incredible! Thank you for sharing the process.