Thursday, September 27, 2012
Making Herbal Paper and Ink
Grandmother were making felt and paper. Tedious, messy,
sometimes Smelly, creative and loads of fun for little ones to help with. (Just keep
them Away from the simmering part because of the caustic soda).
The Chinese have been credited with the invention of paper making around
105 A.D. Using flax with tree bark. One needs the cellulose fibers of plants
in order to make paper. Some plants are better than others for this purpose.
The best ones are flax, straw, nettles and rush. Marijuana is quickly coming
into its own as a great fiber source. Various cultures have used bamboo,
butchers broom, chamomile, cow parsley, dandelion, dill, fennel, iris, mullein,
papas grass, sunflower, and most cereal grasses.
Equipment needed to prepare the pulp:
* 3 to 5 gallon bucket;
* wooden spoon;
* 12 quart steel pot (stainless or galvanized is preferred);
* pestle and mortar;
* metal sieve;
* rubber gloves;
* strong nylon net bag; I realize this is not period, but the finer the
the plant fibers are blended, the finer the paper. With that in mind, one may
want to utilize a blender.
1. Gather 3 gallons of herbs, cut or tear them into 1 or 2 inch pieces
2. Crush the pieces (this aids in the breakdown process) Caution!!!! When
using caustic soda, use rubber gloves and avoid inhaling the fumes!!! Wash off
any splashes with cold water.
3. Place 1 qt of cold water (well or distilled) into pan, add caustic
soda, using a wooden spoon, stir gently.
4. Add herbs, cover with warm water, stir gently until herbs are covered,
simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (until fibers are soft).
5. Rinse herbs to remove all traces of soda, then strain through a metal sieve.
6. Place pulp in net bag and rinse for several minutes, squeezing pulp repeatedly
7. If blending by hand, a mallet is helpful. If not, blend 2 and 1/2 half
tablespoons of fibers with 3 cups of water for 20 seconds. You now have
8. An old trick to size paper so that you can write on it is to mix 1/5
teaspoon of cold water laundry starch with some water and mix with the
Equipment for making the paper:
wooden frames: 8 1/2 by 11 or 8 1/2 by 14 with strong netting tacked or
stapled taut. You need to waterproof the joints using wax (or you can go modern
with caulking); one wooden frame of the same size without netting; large basin
(one the size of a kitty litter box works well); newspapers (some use old
1. Fill the basin with the pulp mixture to just below the rim.
2. Place the 2 frames together(the empty one over the netted one).
3. Hold them together, dipping them vertically into the basin.
4. Once in the water, tilt the horizontally below the water, raise slowly
catching the mixture onto the netting.
5. Lift from basin, horizontally, place on cloth or newspapaers to dry.
6. Remove empty frame.
7. If decorating the paper, now is the time to sprinkle flattened flowers
or leaves onto the paper, leave to dry.
8. Slide a palette knife under the paper to loosen it.
9. Clean frame and reuse.
11th century Oak gall ink
1. 8 oz of oak galls
2. 2 and 1/2 quarts of boiling water
3. 3 oz of sulfate of iron (ferrous sulfate)
4. A few drops of myrrh
5. A few drops of essential oils
6. 1 1/2 oz gum Arabic
1. Steep galls in water for 24 hours, strain.
2. Add oils to myrrh then add gum Arabic.
3. Stir oils into the gall infusion along with the sulfate of iron
4. Bottle and label (Dark colored glass is preferrable)
The study of herbals is never ending. Maybe some of you will try your hand
at this ancient art.