Flower & plant paper

Using the pounding or blending method, cellulose and fibres of local or withered plants and flowers and/or paper waste can be transformed into colourful paper-like materials.
Follow the recipe below for making paper out of withered flowers. Here's a recipe on making Grass Paper by Gabriella Timanti, and another take on paper making by recycling your unwanted bills or junk mail: Makezine: Paper Making 101.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Pounded paper made from flower fibres results in a thin but very strong paper. It is more rigid than for example office paper and has more texture. You can see all the details of the fibres used.
Blended paper in comparison, especially the ones made with stems are more brittle and have even more texture and a rough feel. Somewhat like pressed paper waste composites (such as the ones used for fruit and vegetable packaging), but more rough to the touch.

RECIPE

Ingredients

  • Bouquet of withered flowers, the ones the florist throws away
    • Flowers will provide the cellulose and fibres to make the paper
  • Soda ash (sodium carbonate Na2CO3), 15 g
    • To wash off dirt and grit
  • Water, enough to cover the dried flowers
  • a coffee filter to filter the fine particles from the flower dye

Tools

  1. 1.
    A drying rack
  2. 2.
    Metal wire or fish wire
  3. 3.
    Rubber bands
  4. 4.
    A cooker
  5. 5.
    A pot
  6. 6.
    A spoon
  7. 7.
    A mortar and pestle to pound the flowers (you can also do this with a blender but you will cut the fibres short doing that, resulting in a more brittle paper that is less strong).
  8. 8.
    A picture frame to create a mould & deckle. The picture frame should ideally fit into your sink or into a large oven dish that you can fill with water to distribute the fibres evenly.
  9. 9.
    A sheet of fine mesh to create a mould & deckle
  10. 10.
    A staple gun to create a mould & deckle
  11. 11.
    A strainer, to rinse and strain the boiled flowers
  12. 12.
    A funnel, to capture the flower dye
  13. 13.
    A coffee filter, to filter the flower dye
  14. 14.
    A glass jar, to store the flower dye

Yield

Approx. 3 sheets of paper

Method

  1. 1.
    Drying the flowers
    • Separate the flowers based on thickness and hardness of the stems. They will dry at different rates so it's useful to group them together for drying. You can separate by color at a later stage.
    • Tie small bundles together with a rubber bend and suspend them upside down from a drying rack, using fish wire or metal wire.
    • Leave them to dry for about 2 weeks or longer, until they make a crackling sound and are totally dried out.
  2. 2.
    Separating and boiling
    • When the flowers are dry, separate them by color (yellow gives a yellow-ish paper, whereas blue and purple will be more green, and red flowers will become a light brown). These can be enhanced by adding some natural colorants if you wish.
    • Now separate the flower leaves if you want to make a delicate, thin paper with a fine texture. Keep the stems for a rougher thicker paper that is more cardboard like. Cut them into smaller pieces so they fit in your pot.
    • Cover the flowers with water, and add the soda. Bring to a boil and boil for 30 minutes until the fibres are soft. This will take longer if you incorporated the stems as well, they can be tough.
    • Strain the fibres (catching the boiling liquid in a pot for later).
    • Then rinse the flowers with cold water using a strainer.
    • Decide if you will be pounding the flowers by hand (Japanese style), which keeps the fibres longer and your paper sronger. If you do this using stems make sure they are very very soft or you won't be able to pound them. Alternatively blend the boiled flowers (and stems) with a kitchen blender, resulting in shorter fibres and more brittle paper.
  3. 3.
    Option A: Pounding
    • Transfer the boiled flowers into a mortar and pestle and pound them until you get a very fine mushy slurry.
    • Optional: if you wish to enhance the color you can add some dye to the slurry during pounding.
  4. 4.
    Option B: Blending
    • Transfer the boiled fibres into a blender and blend into a slurry. Make sure there are no big pieces of fibre and stems left.
  5. 5.
    Moulding slurry onto the screen
    • Scoop your slurry onto your mould & deckle. Cover the screen with about 1.5-2.0 mm slurry (it will shrink a lot). If your screen is too big to cover with a layer that is thick enough, mold it into a desired shape using a strip of acrylic, a ruler or other straight edge.
    • Carefully submerge the mold & deckle into water (in the sink or in a large oven tray or oven dish) to help distribute it evenly.
    • Optional: spray some additional colorants onto the slurry.
  6. 6.
    Drying and pressing
    • Leave the slurry to dry without touching or moving it for about 2 days. Outside or near a window speeds up the process a little.
    • When the slurry is completely dry, carefully peel it off with a piece of thread or a scalpel. The slurry is dry when it no longer feels cool to the touch.
    • Press the paper under a stack of heavy books to keep it flat. Store in a dry space.
  7. 7.
    Saving the boiling liquid as dye
    • If you saved the boiling liquid you can use it as a dye (creates subtle yellows and greens). The dye will be alkaline (PH 8-9) due to the soda that was added to the water. Acidic and copper modifiers make for lighter yellows and greens respectively.

sources:

Paper and dye from withered flowers by Loes Bogers Grass Paper by Gabriella Timanti Paper Making 101 by Makezine