We’re getting toward the end of our first week here in Point Arena and have had an eventful few days! After our exploratory forage, we decided to make our first batch of paper out of the abundant meadow grass. We harvested both fresh and dry grass so we could experiment with 2 different methods.
We cut the dry grass into 1” pieces and the fresh grass into 10” pieces, then soaked it overnight before boiling it with soda ash to break down the fibers. Later in the afternoon we paid a visit to our neighbors over at Windy Hollow Farm where we’ll be teaching 2 papermaking workshops during their farm camp. We’re so inspired by their beautiful property where they grow flowers and vegetables, as well as run their non-profit, ACORN Partners in Education.
The next morning we scouted waves along the coast and ended up surfing at Big River, Mendocino. Nestled between cliffs, where the river meets the ocean’s glittering edge, this spot feels a little like paradise. After anointing ourselves in the cold pacific, we boiled our fibers in an alkaline solution and prepared to make paper the next morning.
Our bodies exhausted from surfing and carrying vats of water and fiber, we turned in for the evening. Fellow artist-in-residence, Ellie Lobovits, made two beautiful loaves of challah for shabbat, we drank dandelion root tea, and went to bed with the sun.
Rested and rejuvenated, we started our morning with a strong cup of coffee and got right to “work.” After rinsing the boiled fibers, we beat them until uniform, first with wood beams and then with rubber mallets. This process sheds new light on the phrase “beaten to a pulp.” It was definitely the most labor-intensive step, and by the end of this trip we’re going to have arms of steel.
Finally, it’s time to turn this stuff into paper. Moment of truth.
Success! We are really excited about the golden color of the dried grass, the way the light shines through each sheet, and the textural qualities the less-processed fibers and seeds make.
While pressing the paper under cinderblocks we invented “paper aerobics."
We got the idea to make use of some glass windows Ben and Tara collected to dry the sheets in the last of the afternoon sun.