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Canary Grass
Phalaris arundinacea

This year I'm into some serious papermaking. I've been studying the flowers of the Klamath Basin for two years - taking photographs and learning which flowers are noxious weeds or invasive plants. This plant is on the Noxious Weeds list for Oregon.  To view my page of pictures documenting this plant, go to my Scientific Index and look up Phalaris arundinacea.

October 2, 2004. I have not harvested any of this grass although there is an abundance of it here in the local area. The pulp I have is left over from last year's Western Papermaker's Gathering where it was beaten in Julie's Critter. I had kept the pulp stored by drying it in tufts and then keeping it in a marked plastic baggie. When I was ready to use it, I rehydrated it and poured in some bleach to lighten it. I left it in the bleach overnite, giving it an occasional stir. It yielded a lovely cream colored pulp.

I took the pulp to Studio O and gave it a quick pulse in my blender to separate the fibers back out again and poured it into my small rubbermaid vat. I use screens without any support except the duct tape around the edges and have been able to pull thin, even sheets with a quick swish, scoop, tilt movement.

I couched the small 5x7 inch sheets onto a wet post made of retired cotton sheets. When I couch the sheet, the screen and pulp is still thoroughly soaked with water. I slap the screen down and then squeegee my hand back and forth firmly on the back of the screen to press the fibers a wee bit and expel any excess water. I'm not real neat or careful about it. When I pull up the screen, I start at a corner and continue to run my other hand back and forth to separate any fibers that pull up with it. If it insists on sticking, I lower the screen back down, use a spray bottle of water to rewet it, and begin to lift again. Since I wanted this paper fairly thick for wall hanging, I couched several sheets next to each other and on top of each other. During the process, the pulp stayed pretty saturated with water. This was a good thing as I built the larger sheet. When I had it as thick as I wanted it, evenly distributed and as large as I wanted, I picked up an old window screen, still in its original frame, and laid it on top of the new sheet. I squeegeed back and forth with my hand as hard as I could and then blotted with a terry cloth towel. I peeled the screen up very slowly and carefully like the page of a book and if the paper looked like it was even thinking of sticking, I worked that spot vigorously with my hand from the back of the screen. I left the paper outside overnite to dry.

It came out the most lovely off-white yellow/cream and was a soft but strong paper. It is a beautiful paper for artwork, but would definitely need sizing if anyone wanted to write on it.

I will be harvesting some plants and making more of this paper, so pictures will be forthcoming.


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Copyright 1998-2008 Colleen D. Bergeron.
Last revised: November 14 2008