Paper of the Month


Source: Leaves and stems
Use: Pulp
Harvest: Spring to early summer
Processing: Minimal soak, cook, blend
The Nice Thing is: Looks crinkly and interesting like exotic bark papers
Not-so-Nice: Doesn't want to let go of your screen

Blooming daffodils are a smile-making sight here in Eugene. Their sun-colored blooms remind everyone that there still is a sun... somewhere. They're also taller than other early blooming flowers, the crocuses, snowdrops and lawn violets; I love that you can see the blooms from the bus window.

Daffodil blossoms are slightly waxy when dry, so they resist water based inks if you leave them in your pulp. The leaves, however, make some of the easiest plant pulps around. Harvested after the blooms have wilted out of the dining table bouquet, leaves and stems need only to be soaked overnight in plain water, then cooked in plain water for a half hour. Let the cook pot cool overnight before draining and blending. This plant pulp is so tender, it can be blended with a potato masher (retired from the kitchen). I typically give larger batches a quick spin in the blender, short pulses on high.

When pure daffodil leaf pulp is used to make sheets, the resulting paper looks like bark based paper (e.g. amate), and crinkles when dry. It's fascinating stuff, but a little tricky to form. Sheets made from the straight plant pulp like to hang onto the screens during the creation process. Best way to avoid tearing the newly made sheet when removing it is to invert the couching cloth-covered screen over the beginning post, and press from the back side. Some folks use this technique exclusively--it's a good shortcut for beginners and students--but I think I can learn something about the newly formed sheet by transferring it on the couching cloth that I can't through inversion. Daffodil pulp also blends well with white recycled paper pulp, which also makes it handle more easily, but lightens the color.

When I use leaves from a bouquet, the pulp dries a very light green color, almost white. If I wait until the leaves have died and dried back in my garden (around June), the pulp has a much darker brown color, wet and dry.

Daffodil pulp can also be mixed with recycled paper pulp for a more conventional sheet with green or brown flecks and speckles. This blended pulp is also much easier to couch than the pure daffodil.

    Dry-harvested daffodil paper                           Daffodil with recycled pulp