Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nature Papermaking Class

We taught nature papermaking last weekend at the studio. Donna and I spent the two weeks prior prepping fiber--chopping, cooking, rinsing & more rinsing, then beating it into a pulp. It really has a lot of similarities to industrial size cooking!
We found bamboo fiber to be tough as nails! We soaked it for a week and cooked for about 14 hours in lye and it was still pretty tough. We have it soaking in water still trying to soften it up!
We cook fiber in large kettles--I swear a watched pot never boils! We cook with the lids on but need to check them so they don't boil over.
A tangled mess only a papermaker could love! Once the fiber is cooked and rinsed, we "beat it to a pulp" in our beater. This is the plant fiber Yucca which is notoriously bad behaving--see the suds? It can be used to make soap! The first time we beat it at the studio it was like an "I Love Lucy" episode--soap suds were overflowing everywhere--in ginormous proportions! We had to move the beater outside, it was such a mess. This Yucca behaved and made only bitsy suds.
Well behaving Yucca!
Everyone concentrating on their deckle boxes.
Couching newly formed sheets of paper.
These folks made a ton of paper. Yay! It was worth all the cookin' & prepping.