- Soak the bark strips in water overnight.
- Cook the bark strips in a stainless steel pot with a caustic agent like soda ash, lye or washing detergent. We used washing detergent. This breaks down the cellulose/non-cellulose in the plant. We cooked with 4 tbps. of detergent for 4 hrs.
- Thoroughly rinse the bark strips in water to remove impurities and aim for mostly clear water.
- Start hand pounding the moist bark with a mallet. As you can see from the photos, we did this in small batches to get good contact with the fibers. We beat into a pulp for about 1-1.5 hours. The time isn't as important as just testing the fibers by putting a pinch worth into a glass of water and swirling the fibers around. If there are clumps you need to keep pounding. If the fibers suspend and float evenly throughout the water it's ready to be made into paper. We wanted a mix of short/long fibers so we didn't beat the fibers for the same amount of time. However, other than the water test we could also pull the fibers apart without using much force. They were nice and soft like hair, and we think they look like hair too!
- Prepare your vat with water and a bit of formation aid. The formation aid helps keep the water from draining too fast when you form a sheet of paper on your mould.
- Start adding handfuls and half handfuls of bark pulp into your vat. When you think you have enough pulp mixed into the vat make a test sheet of paper.
- We ended up dipping our moulds into the vat at least 2 times, sometimes 3, to get even coverage of fibers and not have holes or thin spots in our paper. The fibers also had a tendency to drape over the deckle so we had to carefully pull these off to not mess up the edges of our paper.
- Couch the paper off your mould and onto pellon interfacing. Make a post of papers.
- Press your post of paper. We used our 12-ton Aardvark hydraulic press at about 10 tons of pressure.
- Dry your papers in the air or under restraint. We transferred our pellon sandwiched paper into our restraint drying box and let dry for 24 hrs.
- Voila- you've got beautiful cedar bark paper!
Last week a client brought in some cedar bark strips for us to try out and make some sample papers. We've never hand pounded a fiber before so it truly was an experiment for us, and we couldn't be more pleased with the results! The dry paper color is close to a rich walnut, it's hard to capture with our phone camera. Here are the steps we went through for those that would like to know. (In the future we'll put info. like this on the papermaking wiki that we're developing.)
Pulp & Deckle is a handmade papermaking studio located in Portland, OR.