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Re: Paper question



Hi,

I am not a handmade paper expert by an stretch of the imagination...more of
a "jack of all trades"  :)  But I pull a lot of my own paper for book
binding, and have learned some things (usually the hard way).

When adding inclusions such as flower petals, it is very important that the
flowers be dried.  Now you can do this in a variety of methods....
*hanging as described earlier until dry,
*a conventional flower press,
*or use your microwave with a contraption called a "Microfleur"....I admit
to having one, and loving it...but it is a pricey  little gizmo, and I was
recently told that two "Correlle" brand plates layered with a piece of
paper towel, your flowers and another piece of paper towel, produce the
same effect...much cheaper as well.

Once the flowers are dried, and you are ready for inclusion..before adding
to the pulp in bulk...set the flower petals into a bowl of cool water for a
few minutes...this re-hydrates them just enough to make them a bit easier
to work with in the vat.  It also helps to retard bleeding of dark colored
petals..like red roses.  Notice I said retard...not eliminate.  I happen to
like a certain amount of bleeding...lucky for me...as I have not yet
figured away to eliminate it entirely.  Of course you can always choose to
add the flowers to a freshly pulled sheet of paper before couching...this
allows you to have exact placement.

Working with the flowers in this manner DEFINITELY eliminates browning and
spoilage...at least it has for me.

Now...grasses.

Pampas (sp?) grass is on my list of plant materials to experiment with this
summer, so I don't have experience with grasses specifically, but I can
tell you what I do for Cat Tail reeds and Cornstalk.  The key to working
with plant materials of this nature is to boil them.  I cut them down into
manageable size pieces and boil for a long time....3 hours or more.  I add
some washing soda to the water and plant material.  Traditionally you are
supposed to use Soda Ash, but I have a small one at home so I try not to
use caustic chemicals unless absolutely necessary.... and the washing soda
works (Arm and Hammer...available in grocery store).

Boil the plant material and washing soda for about three hours...drain
through a colander that is reserved strictly for paper
making...outside...and rinse the plant material well with a garden house.
The rinsing is very important.  Then I dump the plant material into a
bucket, and pound down the fibers.  Usually if boiled long enough the
pounding isn't a painstaking process.  Once the fibers are adequately
separated, I then add them to my vat of pulp and start pulling.  My cat
tails reeds (done last year), still retain their green hue.  The cornstalk
pulp really is more like green slime when its processed...but dries into
golden strands throughout the paper...its lovely.

If I can help more, please let me know.  :)
Melissa Hatalsky
Central NY


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