If you ask someone what paper is made of, most would immediately say trees. However, with the hand papermaking process, you can use other plant fibers to make an incredible range of handmade papers. Check out this handy infographic (not quite a tutorial, but you’ll get the general idea).
Some plants are grown specifically for the hand papermaking process, others can be sustainably harvested from the wild, and even more can be made from leftover fibers from the garden, kitchen, or even agricultural waste (check out Fresh Press). To make strong paper, choose plants with a high cellulose fiber content.
Since we’ve simplified the overall instructions, keep in mind that each plant fiber requires different treatment along the way, and the resulting paper will reflect the fiber’s unique characteristics. And, there’s an endless variety of techniques for cutting, scraping, cooking, retting, pulping, sheet formation, pressing, and drying that will all affect the resulting paper.
For further reading:
- Papermaking with Garden Plants and Weeds by Helen Hiebert is a great studio guide for those interested in experimenting with botanical papermaking.
- Hand Papermaking Magazine’s Beginner Articles has a wealth of articles from various authors about finding, harvesting, and processing different plant fibers.
- A fantastic table of plant fibers that can be processed by hand, by artist and hand papermaker Catherine Nash.
- See how to make Seaweed paper!
- Be sure to check out Make Paper: A Handy Illustration of the Hand Papermaking Process, which is more of a broad summary of how one can make handmade paper.