Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How to Make Paper from Vegetables

This is not the first tutorial I've published in this blog on how to make colored paper from vegetables, but I think it is the best.

Quilting Arts Magazine sent out this fantastic tutorial for making papyrus (paper) from vegetables. ( Some of you may recall the blog entry I did awhile back about an artist here in the Bay Area who makes art bowls from it. ):

Some people compost their leftover vegetables, but fiber artists interested saving the planet may also want to slice up some "garbage paper," like Quilting Arts reader Sally Rorback has done. She based her experiments on the book Vegetable Papyrus by Maureen Richardson (Berrington Press).

"All paper is made from cellulose, which is found in most plants,' says Sally. "In order to get the cellulose in the fibers to stick to itself you have to wet the plant material, so the cells in the fibers can fill with water, and then press the water out of it. This technique is similar to that used for making real papyrus, so it is a very old method of creating paper. The only slightly unusual piece of equipment needed for this process is a screw press. These are not too hard to find, and not too expensive; they can also be made at home by determined folk.

"This process can take as long as two or three days, depending on the weather. Sometimes I hurry the procedure along by finishing the paper in a 200-degree F oven for 30 minutes or so, but this is only at the very end, to make sure there will be no mold, etc. Parboiling rids the vegetable matter of unwanted fats and lignins, and, hopefully insect eggs, etc."


* Fruits and vegetables
* Pot, stove, and water
* Finely woven cotton fabric (or non-woven interfacing)
* Newsprint
* A screw press


1. Slice the fruit or vegetables into 1/8", 1/4", or 1/2" slices (depending on the toughness of the vegetable matter being used). Slices can be horizontal or vertical, or you can peel the skin (such as on a scallion).
2. Parboil the plant material anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes, depending on the toughness of the vegetable.
3. Arrange the slices in any pattern you like on a piece of cotton cloth that has as little "grain" as possible. Be sure to overlap the slices, as this is what holds the piece together.
4. Place another piece of the fabric on top of the design, thereby making a sandwich with the veggies in between the sheets of cotton cloth.
5. Place the sandwich between several sheets of newsprint, and then repeat the process, piling the sandwiches on top of one another.
6. Insert the sandwiches in the screw press and gradually tighten it more and more. As the newspapers get wet, remove and replace them with dry ones. It is important to change the newspaper when it gets pretty damp, as leaving it to sit when it's wet causes mold to grow. Keep tightening the press and replacing the newspapers until the veggie-paper has dried out completely.

Note: The veggie-papers may lose their color after some time, especially if the piece is exposed to direct sunlight, says Sally. "They will continue to show the internal structure of the plant, though. I have some veggie papers that are years old and still show their color."
Carrot Paper


neoinileias said...

you have very interesting blog

mermaid musings said...

you rock!!!
everytime i come to check you out I become smarter ;-)
Thank you!

diane de roo said...

I am very interested in seeing your other blogs about making paper with vegetables - is there any way I can access them?

Shiva said...

Excellent description and beautiful photos. You have explained it very well.
I was searching the internet for making paper with vegetables so that I don't have to add any chemical bindings and your blog showed up. Thank you and good luck.

Adam Van Meter said...

I'm doing the HELL out of this! just.. just as soon as I make myself some kind of press. Yeah. I might improvise with clamps and boards like I do for everything else.

Thanks for sharing! :D

Stacy Alexander