Tuesday, March 24, 2015


 While traveling cross-country recently on the way to settle my mother's estate, I read The Watermark, a stunning debut novel by Vanitha Sankaran about paper making in pre-renaissance France.  I was totally entranced by the process of making paper from flax and other fibers.

Upon arriving at my brother's farm where we convened to celebrate my mother's life, I clued into the beautiful details of dried foliage around the landscape.  These are dried sunflowers, cut down and laying against the fence.

Wild grass on the left and grape leaf on the right...

oak leaves in beautiful bronze and golds.....

and many different grasses in various shades of light golds against the weathered wood of the shed.

After looking at all of these lovely bits, and wanting to do something creative yet without any of my wonderful supplies and stash at home, I got the idea of making paper from the incredible dried foliage I found around me.

I know nothing about making paper, but thanks to the internet, I was able to discern how to proceed.  And being on a farm, we had all the necessary things, including a small propane burner on which to boil down (outside!) the fiber to separate out the cellulose and other products, and two small frames to act as a mould and deckle.

I started by gathering a variety of leaves and grasses, and cut them into small bits  before putting them all to simmer in a mixture of water and washing soda (the latter helps break down the fibers even more).

Once the mixture had simmered for three hours, it was cooled and rinsed, and then put into an old Cuisinart for pulping.  The pulp was then added to a large plastic storage tub with water.

On the right below is the screened mould, wrong side up, on which the paper pulp will be laid by immersing in the pulpy water, as seen on the left.  The deckle is an empty frame which sits on top, to contain the pulp, and is what leads to lovely deckled edges.

I added some shredded paper (old bank statements) that I had soaked for an hour or so in warm water to give some adhesion, as I wasn't sure the natural fibers would "gel" enough on their own.  This is the look in daylight.

Below is the backside of the paper, in incandescent lighting.  I love all of the fibers.

We are fortunate in this small town to have a Michael's, so I was able to purchase a small stamp set of wildflower looking things, with some archival ink in dark brown.

I tore some plain newsprint, which I have been using to pack up some family items for storage, and then stamped these with the new stamps in the dark brown ink.

I then twisted and folded these into some semblance of roses.  They look pink here, but are really dark brown.

As a substrate, I started with a piece of kraft, which I had swiped heavily with a DI Vintage Photo pad (another Michael's purchase today, as I know I will always be able to use it!)  I then flicked this with water.

On top of that, I added some torn corrugated cardboard from an Amazon box, also distressed with Vintage Photo.  And to that, I added my three small roses.

Lastly I added a handwritten sentiment on kraft, which was distressed again with the vintage photo, using my finger to smear it onto the surface.  The whole piece was placed on a burlap 12 x 12 inch sheet for depth.  Will have to cut it down to fit my art journal once I am home.

I will be posting this on Brenda's Visual Journey,  as well as Mixed Media World.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and please do leave a comment.  I appreciate every one - I love hearing from you!!

xx Lynn


  1. Wow Lynn, this is so beautiful and I love how you made your own paper! You have made me want to read the book too! Chrisx

  2. Oh my! This is awesome! You made your own paper full of gorgeous textures! Awesome! Love the flowers too! Thank you for playing along with our Mixed Media World challenge! Hope you can join again! Ingrid. X

  3. What beautiful work Lynn - the roses are stunning, and I love the texture in your paper. I've been making paper on and off for years, but I've never raided the garden! What a wonderful idea and something I shall bear in mind for next time. I'm off to look for the book as it sounds extremely interesting. Thanks for a wonderful blog post and thank you for stopping by mine earlier on.

  4. I was so excited reading your post Lynn, firstly by the way you described the book, then the photographs and the fact you made your own paper, motivated by what you saw around you. You really challenged yourself here and I am awed by what you created from those starting points with such ingenuity and passion. Thanks for sharing with Visual Journey xxxx

  5. HI Lynn, I've loved reading how you created this paper that's so full of gorgeous texture. This is a fabulous piece and those roses look beautiful.
    Avril xx

  6. Wow, I am in awe of the fact that without normal supplies to hand your creativity just was on a roll and you created such a beautiful piece. Love this and the whole creative process! Ruth x

  7. Oh my goodness, Lynn - what a beautiful post. The photographs are just wonderful, and it was so moving to read how you found such beauty and inspiration in the book and in the nature around you even as you gathered to commemorate your mother's life. Your handmade papers are completely stunning, and I love the page you created - subtle, moving and beautiful.
    Alison xx

  8. Amazing! I love your experimentation, how you show it and most of all, your ideas ! The three roses are just adorable !

  9. Lynn this is really beautiful. The handmade papers are amazing, and the page will always remind you of the time you spent with your family at your brothers farm xx