Making paper from sea oats

We begin with sea oats collected from the sandy beach:

Sea oats from Ocean Isle Beach
Sea oats from Ocean Isle Beach

which we cut up and boil for a couple of hours

boiling

then let stand in the pot for several days, soaking. Next we add some dryer lint

Dryer lint
Dryer lint to provide a binding agent–I made up this step because the fibers seemed coarse and might not hold together

then load the mix into the blender with some water

Full blender
Full blender

which made too-fat pulp

Insufficiently degraded pulp
Insufficiently degraded pulp draining on a screen over the sink

and so we scale it back a bit

A less-full blender makes it easier to blend more thoroughly
A less full blender makes it easier to blend more thoroughly

shape it, drain it, and place it on a towel,

1st
The odd shapes I chose

layering it in the towel on the window sill to dry for several days.

Weighting the pulp while drying keeps it from curling
Weighting the pulp while drying keeps it from curling

Once dry, we modge-podge it to assist in holding it together while also sealing it

Dab with a foam brush to keep brush bristles from tearing the paper apart
Dab with a foam brush to keep brush bristles from potentially tearing the paper apart

The final product: two fat crosses and a thin one

Two crosses that are more 3-d and one as thin as paper
Two crosses that are more 3-d and the one on the far left that I cut from the square, as thin as paper

Would I do it again? It’s nice for sentimentality—paper made from sea oats collected from the beach my family has loved since I was in the 11th grade. It’s also time intensive. Plus, it’s more sculpture than paper. I could have used a caustic substance to degrade the fibers more completely and ensure thinner paper, but I didn’t want to. Next time I may add baking soda at the boiling stage, baking soda being a caustic agent but a mild one.

So, yeah. It was fun, and I like the results of this, my first attempt to make paper from plants, something I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

handmade paper, handmade paper from sea oats, making paper from plants

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