Thursday, May 1, 2014

Making Paper ~

Norton Elementary School will be having a Mother's Day Farmer's Market on May 9 to raise money for their greenhouse. I talked to the kindergarten teacher whose class I have been a volunteer for several years about the idea of the kindergarten children making cards for Mother's Day and I would make paper embedded with marigold seeds in it. These could be sold along with the plants the children in the school have been growing in the school's greenhouse.
I am also teaching a class for the City of Norton Parks and Recreation on making cards with dried flowers and handmade paper. For those of you who live too far away to create with us, I took some photos while I made the paper.
 I have been making paper at home for many years with very simple materials. This is a piece of felt that has been used for almost 20 years. It is the top of a Sterilite 28 quart plastic container. The felt is on the top as it is plastic and has a nice lip so that the water does not overflow onto the floor.

I get some warm tap water to put into the bottom of the Sterilite plastic box. The box is on the sink in the studio.
 I plug in the Osterizer blender. It is about 20 years old and is used only for paper making.
 Paper pulp which for this purpose if sheets of paper I had made before but didn't really like is mixed with warm water to the four cup level of the blender. I turn it on mix and count to 10 sometimes more depending on how the pulp is being mixed.
 I pour the mixture of paper pulp into the plastic box. I agitate the water mixing it around. Here is the beginning of the paper in the water bath.
 I dip the paper screen into the pulp and then put the paper onto the felt. I will push my hand over the back of the screen and slowly lift the screen.
 A photo of the paper embedded with lots of marigold seeds I collected from the garden last year. The screen without the paper is next to the sheet of wet paper. To embed the seeds, I mixed the seeds with the pulp and also put seeds between the layers of paper. Most sheets are thin and I used two layers with lots of seeds between the layers to make just one piece of paper.
 I wear gloves when I make paper. These are the green creative paper gloves that are long enough that I can agitate the water. It is a nice flow when you agitate the water.
When the paper is on the felt, I will cover the last sheet with another felt. I take the entire box lid outside and I will walk across the top felt to press out the water. Then I come inside and pour out the entire box of water with pulp and seeds into the sink where I have a screen in the bottom of the studio sink.  This is the pulp that was left from making paper today. It is in a sealed glass jar. The marigold seeds are floating on the top.
The sheets of felt with the paper are now drying on the shelves of the greenhouse. It is quite chilly here today and the greenhouse is the warmest and driest place I could think of to put the felts. In the summer, I hang the felts outside and they are dried in a few hours.
The dried paper will be torn and cut to create shapes for cards. The paper can be planted to grow marigolds.

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