It can preserve culture, educate, inspire, heal, or destroy.
The process of paper making is transformative. It is using the mind, heart, and hands. It is a teacher of patience and concentration. Observation and presence. Paper making is a great master, weaving the fibers of life, water activating the process, leaving the elements to bond and create a vehicle for humanity.
Been busy in the studio working on a custom order. Here are some photos. Look out for papermaking workshops this summer. The next one will be at Hemp in the Holler, in Livingston, KY on June 11, 2016. Come check it out! http://www.hempintheholler.com/
Greetings! It’s been a while. Hope you are well. 🙂
Today, Elishewa is in the paper studio making hemp paper for a super special project which will be revealed soon! This batch of paper will be made from beautiful, retted, organically grown hemp fibers from Eastern Kentucky. They came as whole hemp stalks and the fibers were separated from the hurd by hand. The fibers are very long and strong- It will be interesting to see how they do in the beater! They’re cooking right now as this is typed. After the fibers finish cooking, they will be rinsed well and beaten into a pulp in a hollander style beater machine.
In 1916, USDA Botanist, Lyster Dewey, published a report, Bulletin No. 404, titled “Hemp Hurds as Paper-making material.” Inspired by this, I decided it would be a good experiment to make paper from just hemp hurds. This was made possible by money raised from the IndieGogo fundraiser in spring 2014. Thanks to all who supported it to help cover studio rental costs and materials.
Hemp hurds were purchased from Hemp Traders, then retted for around 3 weeks outside in two five gallon buckets, changing water every few days, or whenever there was noticeable discoloration/mold/smell. Retting may have not been necessary, as I later realized; however, my papermaking instructor told me it would be wise to ret them before beating, so I went ahead with that. Then, the hurds were cooked in soda ash for a few hours – another step that may have not been necessary – maybe this will be another experiment – making paper with retted/unretted and uncooked vs cooked batches. They were loaded into the 5 lb reina beater and very quickly after starting the machine, the beater roll was brought to the lowest setting. After about 30 minutes, the hurd was ground up as fine as possible. I let the machine run a little longer just to be sure. The hurd was about the consistency of sawdust. I formed sheets easily. The couching worked fine as well, although it was a delicate process. Once water was pressed out, the sheets took on a consistency similar to piecrust. I made a stack of sheets, pressed and dried as usual. Once they were dried and unloaded, it was exciting to see that it worked! The sheets held together…however, as they were handled more and more, began to break apart, crumble a bit, and it became clear that they would not hold together. The hurd created a thick cardstock like paper, with beautiful bits of texture; however, when folded, the hurd sheets would break apart at the fold. The next experiment was to mix in hurd with fiber pulp. Since I’m in the studio fairly often and have a variety of hemp pulps available to use, I simply mixed hemp fiber pulp, which was made previously, with hemp hurd pulp, about 4:1 ratio of fiber to hurd. When mixed together, the result was a fine paper – a bit thick like cardstock, with a textured surface, and even sheets. The hurd seemed to act as filler, creating more evenly formed sheets, yet they allowed for quick drainage.
I recently printed posters for the Hemp Heals Foundation Music Festival on 100% hemp paper. This was the first time running handmade hemp paper through a professional inkjet machine and they came out great. There was slight bleeding on the degummed hemp paper. Before closing shop, we did a test print of the fiber/hurd cardstock – and the result was amazing! No visible bleeding, and a nice sturdy posterboard. I will definitely be experimenting with more printing on this fiber/hurd paper.
Super excited to be making paper with organic hemp from KY! This first batch is some leftover fibers that didn’t make the cut for a textile project. This was decorticated using a hand break. There were a bunch of hurds still in, although I picked out the larger pieces of hurd (inner woody core of the stalk).
Many different ways to experiment working with this fiber. I also have some whole stalks which have been retted, and am going to test out steaming and stripping off the black bark and use only the inner fiber- we’ll see if it results in a whiter and finer paper. Stay tuned!
I just returned from a trip visiting hemp farms in Kentucky. The first farm had hemp which was planted about a week before, and the second farm I visited had more mature plants, which were between knee and waist high.
One of the farmers gave me retted hemp stalks from last years harvest and yesterday began the process of transforming them into paper. As the fibers cooked, they began to turn a beautiful golden color.
I have learned so much about making paper with hemp over the last 3 years and look forward to researching more and improving my craft while teaching others! We are so grateful for all your loving support. The last indiegogo campaign raised enough money to cover studio costs and the result was 5 beautiful varieties of hemp paper – all 100% hemp except for the rag paper, a hemp/organic cotton blend.
1. Unbleached, organic Canadian hemp fibers
2. Fabric scraps – 55% hemp, 45% organic cotton
3. Degummed hemp fiber from China (light, cream color)
4. Unbleached organic hemp fibers blended with hemp hurds
5. Degummed cream colored hemp fibers blended with hurds.
Additionally, there are about two variations of weights in the unbleached Canadian fiber and de-gummed China fiber papers.
Next phase of growth will be to raise funds for a studio, including a portable beater machine that can be used for traveling hemp paper making workshops.