gently pounded strand of kozo fiber
Kozo, the traditional Japanese paper fiber, comes from the same mulberry trees that dot our local landscapes as a mild invasive (our native red mulberry is the counterpart). My new papermaking friend, Lauren Bacchus, has been exploring fiber work with locally foraged fibers for some time. We had a sharing session and had a lot of fun with partially beaten kozo from branches we had harvested that day.
We cut the mulberry branches into manageable lengths and then cooked them in water with about a cup of my homemade “farmer’s lye.” (Water slowly run through hardwood ashes). Then we rinsed and stripped the bark off the central pith. After more soaking, we could pull off the brown outer bark and expose the white and green layers of the cambium. Lauren showed me how she takes the broader pieces of cambium and gently pounds them on a hand beater surface to spread and delineate the individual fibers without destroying the strand. She explained that some cultures take these pieces and laminate them together into sheets.
Lauren also had a neat trick of pounding little ovals out of a strand of kozo – what a great inclusion object for a paper collages! Love this technique.
sheet of partially beaten kozo
We made a few sheets with the whole partially beaten fibers. It was amazing to see that our short beating session had indeed produced enough pulped fibers to make a sheet of “real” paper with the heavy inclusion of long fibers. I was ready to make some production paper!
After more extensive beating I cut up the kozo into blender-friendly lengths and used a blender mostly full of water to beat a few chunks at a time. After adding a little potato starch, the pulp was ready.
We had a great time, I got to have a big enough fire to make some bio char in tin cans, and it was a lovely warm winter day in Baird Cove. This was a great boost for my intentions to do more natural fiber work in the new studios. Add kozo to my current list of grown or foraged fibers in the studio: okra stems, heirlom green cotton, flax, hibiscus, yucca, iron weed, thistle down, wasp nests and banana!
Above are the first hundred sheets of ONE THOUSAND I will eventually make for the covers of my new book, The Natural History of Raleigh, which will arrive from the printer soon and be out by Mid-November 2018. The sheets are made of high quality scrap and cotton linters, with bits of dried oak leaves suspended in the pulp.
The sheets are 12 1/2 by 20 inches, formed on wove screens of medium coarse silkscreen. I use two screens for extra draining time before couching (laying off on to the wet felt) each sheet.
When I’ve got a stack of a dozen or more between felts, I slide my hands under the stack and lift it into my big press, which is framed by 4×4 lumber and powered by the lovely jack you see (another story sometime). After a good sqeeze and another later, the sheets are ready to lay on boards – or in this case, washed glass.
They dry with the pieces of dehydrated oak leaves down on the glass, which makes that outside cover surface extremely smooth and perfect for printing. Each sheets uses up a good sprinkle of oak leaves and I add pulp and fresh oak leaves between each sheet. I pick a batch of dark un-scarred leaves, sandwich them between screens in a 105 degree dehydrator for a couple of hours, then shred the pieces with my fingers. The project will require many, many pieces of oak leaves.
The Natural History of Raleigh will be published by The Paper Plant Press and includes over 30 line drawings by me, the author. I have worked on this book for over a decade and can’t wait to share it with you!
Folded cover with letterpress block for back
Cover with scored spine and polymer block for front
The finished project is HERE!
We grew lots of flowers in our Asheville garden this summer and I picked and bookpressed or dried between screens LOTS of petals for papermaking. We incorporate the sheets into the pulp, though a great deal of “cheating” – repositioning and adding petals, anchoring with bits of pulp – is done to make them look good.
The petals are fragile and vulnerable to all kinds of problems, from drying to papermaking to drying again. I used a fan to quickly dry boards of petal sheets this year, since I was in a rush to use the petals. Usually, they cure for up to a year.
The cards have a writing sheet tipped inside and come with an all-deckle edge envelope. They are $4 apiece; a set of 5 in a ribbon is $17. You can check them our on our Etsy page, or order what you see here.
bee balm card
Each type has a little foliage included. The yellow card above has regular and Mexican sunflowers, black-eyed susan, and dried leaves of artimesia. If you take my class, you may bring about any 2-D material to put in your paper; we have a few surplus jars of petals you may dip into as well.
Screenprinting is easy and my kind of slightly crude; it was the first printing process I used on my hand-laid papers in Greensboro in 1977-78. The last screenprint I did was in 1983, when GG and I screened an image for some anti-war group she was part of. Now I have screenprinted a souvenir to hand out at the Black Mountain College conference in Asheville. The theme of the conference is craft, and my image is a detail from Anni Albers’ fabric artwork entitled Red Meander. Her work,in turn, is based on an ancient motif that appears on early pottery around the world.
after Red Meander by Anni Albers. silkscreen on hand-laid paper.
To make this, I blew up the original image (from the book Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay, by Christopher Benfey) until the lines were about an inch thick. then I darkened the dark areas and taped the image to the underside of a silkscreen. I cut roughly one inch strips of masking tape and filled in the dark areas I saw through the screen with lines of the tape. All this flipped and reversed the areas of print, but with the meander, that doesn’t really matter!
I picked up some red screen printing ink at Askew-Taylor’s and added a little aquamarine and yellow to get the brick red I wanted. I had whipped out 50 extra sheets of our hand-laid 6×9 card stock over the weekend. Laying the sheet on a registered spot (with a new scrap larger sheet under each lay), I then set the corners of the silkscreen on register corners and lay it on the paper. Spooning a generous dose of ink along the top line, I pulled my blade tool over the screen, running the print (which was slightly larger than my sheet) to the edge of the paper. Lift, separate, and lay to dry. There is a letterpress credit on back done with our small brass stamper.
I look forward to more screen printing as my new schedule allows for some projects like this one. And three cheers for Black Mountain College and the amazing presence it continues to have in the arts of our land!
These little books have 10 same-sided sheets inside – 40 pages! these collage covers are by John (larger book covers are done by Cara) Enjoy!
(click to enlarge)
These books are available for $15 plus shipping. Order here. Or catch us at the Boylan Artswalk Dec 2nd.
Our blank books at Etsy
See all blank book posts.
Our flower petals are bookpressed, then suspended in the pulp as we make the sheets. A writing sheet is tipped into the folded card. All-deckle envelope. Set of five is $17, single cards are $4..
Our note cards at Etsy
We make a screen-dried sheet 29×36 inches and we stock small quantities of screen-dried and felt pressed 20×20 and 21×25 sheets. We have done many unique jobs for weddings, commercial PR packets, artists, and others.
Happy to correspond about your needs at
paperplantpress AT yahoo.com
We marble without alum on our cured hand-laid paper. We use distilled water, pigments and oxgall on a methyl cellulose sized vat. The papers have full color but are slightly muted. Each sheet is unique.
9×12 laid sheets: $3.50 per sheet. 12 1/2 x 20 sheets: $8.00 per sheet.
to order click here
browse individual sheets on Etsy
Our 6×9 collage books have eight inside sheets – 32 pages – which are repressed with linen and cured dry for a very authentic European book paper look. The collages are each unique.
Currrent blank book offerings on Etsy
Our flower petals are bookpressed, then suspended in the pulp as we make the sheets. A writing sheet is tipped in. Set of five is $17, single cards are $4.
single card with handmade paper envelope
Our note cards at Etsy