June 24, 2018

Eco Dyeing Experiment

I’m still working with paper, but I’m not making paper Editthis time. Inspired by Kathyinozarks to learn eco dyeing, this is my first attempt using watercolor paper. The process involves cooking plant materials in a way that they leach their color onto paper or cloth cooked with them. The results are inherently muted, so I want to learn how to get more color. I’m happy with my first try though. Kathy is planning on trying to eco dye her own handmade paper, a goal I haven’t even thought about yet! 

Still inspired by working with paper, but am adding Kathy on Art Journal Journey as an inspiration! 

June 21, 2018

Moving On with Handmade Paper

These various shades of green sheets are made of clover plants weeded from my garden. Starting top left, the sheets are clover plant materials only. Going left to right, then down to the next row, I slowly added white "cotton linters" to each sheet to make it lighter in color. The last whitest sheet is mostly cotton linters with very little clover. Cotton linters are a by-product of cotton plant harvesting. They have short fibers that add smoothness and strength to handmade paper. So these sheets remain all natural. The more I do, the more I realize there’s so much more to learn!

Still inspired by making paper, so Art Journal Journey, here it is. :)

June 18, 2018

Art Journal "Wildlife" Page

Wildlife of a few kinds, the strangest one is on the left mounted on two sheets of handmade paper. It looks something like an owl, but then again, maybe not. All I did was add a few defining lines and watercolor to a used tea bag, and it was born. Fussy cut wolves and an eagle are curious, perhaps even on the attack. Wisconsin birch bark, NYC buttons, and glass beads added interest to this page. 

My inspiration still comes from nature and making paper, so I’m linking this post to Art Journal Journey.

June 15, 2018

Something Different

At my request, my husband made a small 4" x 6" weaving loom of a cedar board and small nails. 

My plan was to make "shifu", a cloth woven of hand-spun Japanese paper thread ("kami-ito"). I haven’t achieved the spinning of that thread yet, but I wanted to weave a meaningful piece for a small bare spot on my wall. So I made this weaving of natural jute and silk strips in blue, green, and peach. Thank you, Kathy, for the silk strips! Once done, I hand-stitched it to a sheet of my dried grass handmade paper. The grass and birch bark inclusions were collected from my son’s forested property in Wisconsin. The random white stitches are hemp thread added simply for interest. 

June 10, 2018

New Handmade Paper Batch

My paper-making sessions are getting longer, and the results are better. I’m getting more paper of better thickness. Each session teaches me something, as well as tires me out! This batch was again made from tall dead field grass. The lighter colored sheets resulted from adding "cotton linters" to the pulp. I added lavender buds to the large whiter sheet bottom right, but they didn’t stay whole during blending. The specks smell good though. Some sheets have visible grass segments, I added clover to one, and they all have a lot of texture. I like having texture, it’s always more interesting. I need to somehow start using more of these papers, perhaps in traditional sewn journal and bookmaking. My husband made two small molds for me, thus the three sheets bottom left. They could make neat small book covers! 

My inspiration still comes from nature and making paper, so I’m linking this post to Art Journal Journey.

June 8, 2018


I found this little rock on my daily walk. It says on the back that it was left by a member of the Facebook group "Nacle Rocks" and asks the finder to post to the group where it was found. Group posts reveal painted rocks have been found from NYC to Philadelphia and beyond. Anyone on Facebook can search for the group name, perhaps join, and scatter some inspirational painted rocks of their own. 

May 30, 2018

More Handmade Paper

Posting about hand-made papers from plant materials is hard. They aren’t really pretty like other spring growing things, and I don’t expect everyone to fully appreciate them. However, there’s just something about the process and papers that speaks to me. This is a photo of my Forsythia leaf paper made yesterday from yard bush trimmings. It’s more green than other papers, and it has the aroma of a hayride. What memories! I got 8+ sheets from this batch, my most ever from one session.

Here in the words of Mary Hark, a handmade paper-maker whose work I’ve seen on the web, is a book excerpt describing her feelings about this art-form. I identify with her words, and she gave me permission to share them here.

From the following book:

From The Center: On Community and the Practice of Making

Minnesota Center for Book Arts / Winter Book 2015

Curated and designed by: Anna Bredeson, Monica Edwards Larson and Regula Russell


I wasn’t going to link this page to "Art Journal Journey" for June. However, the challenge from Gill this month by is "Inspired by...". Nothing inspires me more than making paper from nature. 

May 24, 2018

Art Journal "American Indian" Page

This is my next "American Indian" art journal page. I collected the components from a number of places. There are 4 fussy-cut fabrics to set the theme (1 came from an online order), 2 hand-made papers from plants (bush leaves from my NJ yard and corn husks from Kathyinozarks), birch bark from my son’s trees in WI, a hand-made clay bead from my daughter in MA, and authentic bison roving on the warrior’s leggings (also from Kathy). This one makes 6 pages completed, perhaps half-way unless I run out of ideas! 

I’m linking this page to the "Flora and Fauna" challenge by Jo for this month on "Art Journal Journey". I’m counting on the bison roving to make it qualify. :)

May 22, 2018

An Addiction!

This paper was made from tall dead grass my daughter and son gathered on a recent trip to Wisconsin. At first I wasn’t sure it would go through airport security, but I had nothing to lose by trying. It made it through, and now I have these new sheets to add to my nature-made paper collection. My husband made 2 small molds for me, thus the smaller sheets. I added some uncooked grass to one larger sheet for added interest and texture. I plan to use some of this in my "Wildlife, Native, and American Indian Art Journal" of past posts. Making paper from recycled paper is very pretty and less work, but I now feel I want to use what nature has to offer. I may never go back to using recycled paper again.

May 21, 2018

Sometimes I Cook

Not wanting to leave the impression the only things I cook are ugly handmade paper brews, here is something I made this morning to actually eat. Lol. I didn’t have all of what was needed, or I just preferred other ingredients, so there were substitutions to a Betty Crocker recipe for Bran Muffins. I was out of paper baking cups, so I used a loaf pan. Bran was called for, but I had to use All Bran cereal instead. I like whole wheat flour, so I substituted half of the flour with that. Lastly, the brown sugar in my pantry was as hard as a rock, but it only took 2 minutes in the microwave to soften it enough to measure. It’s not much to look at, but it should taste good!

May 18, 2018

Mother’s Day Gifts

My daughter made these blank books for me. She bound them by hand the old fashioned way, and used shell buttons for just the right amount of decoration. They have vellum and card stock pages for whatever I want to enter. I adore them, but don’t know how I will use them yet. I’ll leave them where I can enjoy just looking at them, and I’m sure the ideas will flow!

UPDATE: I’ve decided one of these will become my "Handmade Paper Journal" (using only natural plant materials). 

May 8, 2018

"Cow Pie" Paper

No, I’m not crazy! This paper wasn’t really made from cow pies, but that’s what it looks like to me. Lol. 

Every paper making session teaches me something. This time I harvested much more plant material to use, thought I could get twice as much pulp from it, and be able to make twice as many sheets of paper. Seemed like a good plan.

However, I realize now that what I collected was too young and tender, mostly new tree leaves. Except for the small amount of dried grass I added, I suspect most of the fragile stuff broke down too thoroughly, and a lot of it was discarded with the water that was used to cook and blend it. 

I’ll find a place for this paper somewhere. Perhaps one of my journal pages will have a cow or two!

May 6, 2018

Art Journal "Native" Page

This wool felt page has fussy-cut fabric images (Native dancers, unopened poppy flower) my tea bag flower painting mounted on torn white card stock, and more of Kathy’s corn husk paper. The pine tree background is fabric. The final touch is the beading top right with beads made by my daughter. My "Wildlife, Native, and American Indian Art Journal" is now up to 5 pages. I hope to have enough ideas for 12 pages.

I have both Flora and Fauna in this piece (for the Art Journal Journey challenge, link below). However, Fauna is camoflaged well and very hard to see (a little birdie top right in the pine tree).


May 4, 2018

"Kitchen Sink" Paper Success!

I’m very happy with the 4 sheets of paper I made this morning from the different plant materials in my last post. This photo shows them drying. The 2 bottom sheets aren’t as dry the 2 top sheets, thus they are darker. They become a bit wavy while they dry, and pressing under weight later will help flatten them.

This was a learning experience, and these are the things I’ve learned: when adding Washing Soda to water for the simmering plant stage, add no more than 1Tbsp. soda to 1qt. water, and don’t simmer beyond the first appearance of slime in the plants. Testing for slime works with rubber gloves. Carefully pick up some hot plant material and judge how it feels when pinched between thumb and finger. You will know if it feels a bit slippery and slimy, it may be time to stop cooking. When pressing a sponge to remove water from a newly formed sheet of paper, do not press *too* hard or the sheet may stick. I had to re-make 2 sheets because of this. Also, making a thicker sheet will lessen possibility of sticking. I expected about 8 sheets of paper from this quart of pulp, but I was only able to make 4 that were not too thin. Next time I’ll gather more plant material to make more pulp. However, I’ll have to make more paper in 2 sessions, because I’m tuckered after making only 4 sheets!

May 2, 2018

"Kitchen Sink" Paper

This is an experiment to see what kind of paper I can make from different fresh plant materials mixed together. I gathered clumps of lawn grass, dandelion leaves/flowers, new tree leaves, household plant leaves, wild onion grass, some weeds and a handful of "Broomsedge" grass left over from my last post. I collected the plants yesterday, cut and put them in my stock pot to soak today, I’ll cook them with "Washing Soda" tomorrow, and then make the paper on Friday. This is a four day project, and I promise an update then, good or bad!