I’m a-draggin’ tonight. Downright pooped. I’m pooped from pampas paper!
I’ve had a bunch of pampas grass stems and leaves that were gathered in April just sitting around collecting dust and more bugs out in the garage. It took a while to separate the stems and leaves, and then to break up the stems into pieces (supposed to be in the 1-2″ range, but these got to be up to 4″). The leaves I was able to cut handily with my guillotine paper cutter. Still took time. Wound up with almost two pounds of dry leaves and a pound and a half of stems.
The stems took about 8 hours to cook up in soda ash – must get some lye before I get any more stems to work on! The leaves took a couple hours, but then I forgot about them and they cooked for about 6 hours! I can’t tell if that hurt them any, but the pulp looks fine.
Used the Hollander beater yesterday with the stems – the resulting pulp was dark with interesting bits in it. One of my sisters came by and even helped me pull sheets. The first of those sheets are mostly dry right now and it seems fine. Not a crispy paper, and I haven’t tried its strength yet.
Today I beat up the leaves. They pulled nicely, too. Used some bleach to lighten the pulp and it looks nice. I’ve run out of drying room, so I’ll have to wait before pulling any more bleached sheets.
I was surprised how much rinsing the bleached pulp needed. And it was a good thing the weather was so warm as I soaked myself several times throughout the day working with the beater, cooked leaves and bleached pulp.
My drying system is part restraint (hanging a stack of pressed papers with clothespins on a hanger) and part drying stack with fan. I started to create more pieces for the drying stack (used plastic ‘cardboard’ yard signs that need holes punched in them) but tuckerd out after a couple hundred punched holes. This will probably be an ongoing activity! Either that or I need to get really mad about something so I can keep my stabbing arm going for a longer time (using a basket awl for the holes). Wasn’t sure if the plastic signs would work – cardboard is the suggested material as it absorbs water – but so far sheets are drying.
I don’t think I’ll be staying up late tonight – just hope I don’t fall asleep trying to post this!