Paper making was invented by the Chinese as early as 105 AD using a combination of flax and tree bark. The cellulose fibers of plants are ideal materials for making paper and today paper is still being made using plants and trees. Of course more and more companies make paper using recycled paper bulp but this is only a small percentage of the total paper production. Excellent herbs for making paper are flax, straw, nettles and rush, bamboo, broom, chamomile, cow parsley, dandelion, dill, fennel, iris, mullein, pampas grass, sunflower and most cereal grasses.
Equipment and Ingredients
For making plant pulp
- 2 gallons (10 liters) of fresh herbs
- 2 tbsp (20 ml) of caustic soda
- 1 Liter of water
- 2 gallon bucket
- Pestle and mortar on mallet
- 2 gallon stainless steel or galvanized pan
- Rubber gloves
- Wooden spoon
- Metal sieve
- Strong nylon net bag
- Liquidizer such as laundry starch (used for writing paper)
For making paper
- Large plastic basin
- Wooden frames, A5 or A4, with waterproof joints and strong nylon net stapled taut to the frames
- One extra frame of the same size, without netting
- Optional ingredients include flowers, petals, stalks, essential oil
Preparing plant pulp
1. Gather a 2 gallon (10 liter) bucketful of herbs and cut or tear them into 1-2in (2.5-5cm) square pieces. Crush thick pieces with a mallet or a pestle and mortar to speed the breakdown process.
2. Put 2 pints (1 liter) cold water into a stainless steel pan and stir in the caustic soda using a wooden spoon. Avoid breathing the fumes, wear rubber gloves and rinse off any splashes with cold water immediately. Add the herbs, cover with extra warm water if necessary and mix well. Simmer for 90 – 120 minutes or until the plant fibers feel soft.
3. Rinse the plants thoroughly to remove all traces of caustic soda. Then strain them through a metal sieve.
4. Gather the pulp (mulch reduced) into a net bag and rinse in water, squeezing the fibers repeatedly for several minutes.
5. Liquidize 2.5 tbsp (35ml) fibers with 25 fl oz (3/4 liter) water for 20 seconds. The finer the plant fibers are liquidized, the finer the paper will be. This pulp can be used as it is or added to recycled paper pulp.
6. Writing paper needs to be treated or “sized” to receive ink. Miz 1/5 tsp (1 ml) cold water laundry starch with a little water and mix into the pulp.
1. Fill the basin with pulp to just below the rim.
2. Place the empty frame over a net frame, hold together and dip vertically into the basin. Tilt to horizontal below the water, and raise slowly, keeping the frame horizontal.
3. Lay on newspaper to drain. Remove the empty top frame, scatter on petals or leaves for decoration and leave the pulp to dry.
4. When completely dry, slide a palette knife under the sheet to loosen it from the frame. Clean the frame and re-use following the same process.
Scented herbal paper
You can scent paper simply by storing it with aromatic herbs in an enclosed space for about 6 to 10 weeks.
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