By Dinah Beeston
Recently Jess contacted us about making paper out of seaweed. She is currently completing her honours degree at UNSW art and design and for her honours project she is investigating how seaweed could be transformed into packaging. We agreed to have a play day to work out whether seaweed would make good paper or not.
Jess brought down 5 different types of seaweed – kelp, fan weed, green fingers, neptunes neck and ulva – which we put in separate, well labelled bags.
We got out the copper, put in hot water, then added soda ash and brought the water to the boil again.
We left the bags in there for about 40 minutes and then washed it very thoroughly – not an easy job as it was very slimy.
By the way – don’t try this at home, the smell was awful !!
We beat up each one in the blenders, and then put them through a mould and deckle to make a sheet of paper. There were various results – mostly the pulp was very mushy (technical term!!) and so didn’t stay on the mould to make a sheet of paper.
We tried a number of different things – using a very small gauge mould, using a liner with the mould, mixing in formation aid, and combining the seaweed with other pulps such as recycled mountboard and banana pulp.
It was interesting to see the reaction when the Neptunes neck was mixed with the banana pulp which clumped together in the paper and was very obvious when it was dried.
The sheets dried at very different rates as you can see from the pictures below:
Jess’s comments when she collected her dried paper were:
“There were some successes and failures from our experimentation. I can see potential in the Ulva species and would like to further experiment with paper making as well as heat pressing to refine and articulate the final result.”
Photos by Dinah Beeston & Claire Brach