scouringrush.jpg (5609 bytes) Common Scouring Rush
aka Rough Horsetail

Equisetum hyemale L.

This was a fun and easy paper!! I pulled two sheets; one each from two separate batches of pulp. The first sheet was from fresh, green scouring rush while the second sheet was pulled from last year's overwintered remains.

The Equisetum family of plants are prehistoric survivors and, interestingly, are filled with silicone! While the plants appeared to be fibrous, they are crisp, easily pulled apart or damaged. Yet I still wondered if they would make a viable paper. Uh yup. They did. You definitely hafta make sure that's where you want it folded because it does break the fiber just a little along the fold and even rewetting and ironing doesn't quite repair it. It has an interesting feel to it. Oddly, it isn't crisp, feeling a little like a thin construction paper. The texture in the fingers is like walking barefoot on dried grass clipping. The sheet from this year's plants is coarser while the one from last year's is cut finer and is more delicate. Either one will make a delightful embellishment and neither one is good for regular penning. Following is my adventure.

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I removed any roots from the bunch of rushes I gathered.

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This is what the roots look like.

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I had left the bunch I gathered in the back of my truck and the outer layer had dried nicely in the summer sun. So I just grabbed the bunch and scrunched. What didn't break off by itself I ended up cutting higgledy-piggledy with a pair of kitchen scissors.

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After getting the rush into the bowl, I scrunched some more trying to reduce the size of the fiber.

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That idea only worked so well. If all the rush was well dried, the scrunching might have worked. So I ended up snipping randomly in the pile until all the stems were one inch or less.

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I place the chopped rush into a big enamel pot of water with one tablespoon of washing soda per quart. I brought it to a boil and then turned it down to simmer for one hour.

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This is what the fresh rush looks like after cooking. They turned a lovely brilliant green.

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I blendered about a handful of the cooked fiber per quart of water for about one minute.

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This is the resulting pulp. I think if I had blendered any longer the pulp would probably disintregrate. The pulp seems a bit fragile. Also, during draining, the water runs off green. This is not color, but actually part of the plant. I rinsed a bunch out but, when I realized what it was, stopped. Without the green, there would have been very little fiber for paper.

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This is what the pulled paper looks like.

          

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Last year's rush look like this and are a delightful, silvery white.

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They are fragile for the most part and can be ground easily between your fingers.

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See what just a little mashing will do?

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I put the crunched rush into a bowl and just stuck my hands in and smashed and ground them in my fists and fingers until all pieces were under an inch. I actually made quite a bit of powder. In fact, if you have allergies, I strongly recommend you wear a dust mask when working with last year's dry rush.

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I cooked last year's rush the same as this year's above and then rinsed thoroughly. I made sure the water ran completely clear this time so I wouldn't get any migration of impurities when I dried the paper.

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This is what last year's rush looks like while still wet before blendering.

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This is what the pulp looks like after blendering before being pulled.

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This is what the pulled paper looks like frontlit.

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This is what it looks like backlit.

During the months of September/October 2002, I chad 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