Corn
Zea sp.

Sep 3, 02 - My first paper attempt with corn husks was not a real success. I harvested about a 3/4 of a paper grocery bagful from the bins at the local grocery store (hmf - cashier thought I had chickens!) and cut them up none too accurately in approximately one inch lengths. Some pieces were a little longer, some were shorter, but just enough to cause me a bit of grief - but I get ahead of myself a little. I cooked the corn with one tablespoon of washing soda per quart for only an hour as, I was told, overcooking leads to the pulp sticking to the screen when pulling paper. I blendered a small handful and it did not want to come apart, all I got was strings! I pulled everything out and dried it on a screen. I have two choices for a fix: 1) Cook some more or 2) cut the fiber smaller. I've heard it is easy to overcook husks, causing the paper to stick to the screen. So, it's back to the dried husks with the scissors.... More soon.

cornhusk001a.jpg (6031 bytes) Sep 8, 02 - I cut the cooked husks a lot smaller and then soaked them until fully rehydrated (see picture on left). Then I whirled a small handful to a quart of water in my blender for sixty seconds. The resulting pulp (see picture on right) was filled with green "mush" (technical term) that appeared, when draining it, to be just color. Trust me, it's not color! It's actually part of the fiber. Some folks rinse until the mush is gone, I left it in out of curiousity and found it helped bulk up the paper. Without the mush, there was very little remaining fiber to work with! cornhusk001c.jpg (4224 bytes)
cornhusk001e.jpg (5161 bytes) These two pictures are the pulled paper. The photo on the left is frontlit and the right is backlit. The paper is delightfully fibrous with one side showing more "strings" than the other because the mush settled to one side while draining. Quite pretty! The mush side, were I to add sizing to the paper, would be good to write on while the stringy side is quite decorative. The paper feels a little like a thin construction paper and takes a fold nicely without cracking anywhere. cornhusk001g.jpg (8074 bytes)

During the months of September/October 2002, I had a booth in the local Farmer's Market. I took the sample papers I had drawn from all the papermaking experiments with me. I found these papers lost their lovely color when exposed to the sun.


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