By Claire Brach
Last week at the studio we got the coppers out as everyone arrived with an array of plant fibres in various states of readiness for boiling.
We chopped, stuffed into bags, added water to the coppers, heated, filled the pots with the bags, stirred, added caustic soda – and then had a welcome break for lunch!
Who’d have known Dinah would be so good with a paddle? Jill supervised what went where, ensured all bags had labels and was a master stirrer (and I mean that in the nicest possible way!). Let’s face it, after growing your plants, pruning, sorting the ‘woody’ sections from the soft, chopping them into tiny pieces and lugging them along you want to make sure you get the correct boiled fibre back and can make the paper you have planned.
Both Jeanette and I had bags of plant fibres that were quite small and we had difficulty locating them among the rest as you can see above. Dinah is helping Jeanette forage among the bags until she found hers and could check it. This is quite important as some plants take quite a bit longer than others to soften sufficiently and disintegrate enough for the next step; the pulping stage.
More water had to be added, Jill explained the process to our new member Bernie, and we all took part in …. well, chatting around the pots really.
Jill checked the progress of her plant fibre and whizzed a little up in the blender to see if it had broken down enough to start pulping ready to make paper sheets. My pineapple fibre was ready, removed from the pot and drained. Helen spent some time going through Jill’s reference folder of plant fibre papers.
And, of course, Brenda had time to actually use some previously made pulp to create some paper. Not sure where she gets the energy from but as she has a project on the go she really needed to use every minute in the studio to move it forward.
Now let’s see what everyone makes with their newly prepared plant material.