Activity: Plants to Paper

Activity: Plants to Paper

In this activity: plants to paper we will be converting cellulose and fiber found in grasses and leaves into pulp to make paper. This is a process that takes a few days and some special devices. We will also be building those devices out of wood, screen, and simple machines!

Basic Physics and Chemistry

Making paper is really simple. It requires 400% more material than you plan to create and it also requires that those fibers be pulped and an alkali be added. Finally we cook the pulp to cause a chemical reaction in the pulp.

Once we have the pulp it needs to be well hydrated and rinsed. WE can use the alkali water in our gardens if we neutralize its pH with an acid. Furthermore, we can be even more sustainable if we use gray water from hand washing stations here at Mezzacello.

The next step will be felting the paper. We put the pulp into a vat ow water big enough to place a screened frame into (see screen frame instructions). Then we dip the screen frame into the pulp water to cellect enough pulp to make paper.

Set that frame aside to dry a bit, and use a second screen to keep felting the pulp from the solution. While that second frame is drying, Carefully pull the paper off the screen and set it between some wool felt or cotton and in between glass sheets or cardboard.

Brute Force and Drying

When you have a stack of paper felts, their moisture wicking material (cardbord can serve as both a layer and moisture wicker, FYI) you will want to press them dry. For this you can stack the layers under boards and add concrete blocks, or you can make a press (see press making instructions).

Once you have all the moisture pressed out, you’ll want to let the paper air dry. After a few hours in the sun or in fronnt of a fan, the paper will be ready to use. Now we can add seeds and plant them, or make origami, or take notes on the next project we will be working on!

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