Tuesday, December 29, 2015

25 Days of Fibre Paper

 At the start of December Helen Hiebert started a project where she posted on her blog something paper related for each of the December days until Christmas. She called the project 25 Days of Paper and every second day provided instructions for projects and the other days information about different paper businesses.
I managed to keep up with the projects for the first week and a bit but then went to Tasmania for a week and although I took a paper tool kit with me I didn't touch it and when I got home I got too busy. However last night and this morning I was able to complete the rest of the projects.
Here are my 13 pieces all made from plant fibre paper.

Window Star, mixed plant fibre
Abaca Lantern without abaca, left kangaroo paw right mulberry bast fibre

Cut out tree card, NZ flax card with fibre behind cut out

Tyvek accordion lantern, New Zealand flax and kangaroo paw fibre
Ball Ornament large; bluebell flower stem and small; mixed fibre
Gift Tag outer; mixed fibre, inner; Kangaroo Paw fibre 
Luminaria cotton and denim

Luminaria watermarked kozo
Pop Up Card New Zealand Flax and Kangaroo Paw fibre
Peace Tree Card New Zealand Flax
Cut and Punched Lantern Bluebell flower stems
Origami Snowflake Mixed plant fibre (with out the tree bases! forgot to cut them out)
Origami envelope Cordyline fibre
Thank you Helen, it has been fun.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


About three months ago a friend gave me a margarine container with some tiny silk worms in it, little did I know what was in store for me. We have a mulberry tree in our back yard and that was fine for the first couple of weeks. After a while it was getting difficult to find enough leaves to keep the hoards satisfied. I started with them in a shoe box but it wasn't long before I had to split them up and in the end I had four boxes and was having to visit a local park where there was a giant mulberry tree hanging over the fence. I will continue the story in the photo captions.

Early days
Getting bigger
I tried some in our mulberry tree and they chewed their way through
lots of leaves and fed the local bird population.
Getting bigger and eating lots more.
I could hear them munching every time I went near the boxes.
The first cocoon being formed.
More cocoons.
Putting the silk worms to work. I received an email from a friend
who had seen that I had silk worms and reported that
Donna Koretsky had demonstrated silk worms spinning flat
instead of cocoons at the last Friends of Dard Hunter meeting.
I just had to try it!
A bit further progressed with the spinning.
This one is on some handmade paper made from bluebell flower stems,
the Yabbers got these for their Christmas cards.
Because I was collecting lots of mulberry I decided to make
some paper from the inner bark.
This shows me scraping the outer bark off the steamed stems.
The inner bark slips off easily then gets cooked in alkali, washed and hand beaten.
The stems left behind are beautiful!
I tied several stems together to make a boatish shape then
lined it with mulberry paper and had the
silk worms make their magic on it.
Collected cocoons
I made some thread from a bundle of cocoons,
it took me about four hours to get 20 metres of thread.
 I used instructions found on the web here.
It came out all uneven but I do love the colour.
The first moth emerges from a cocoon.
The moths lay their eggs, they make wonderful patterns with the eggs and
with the liquid that they spurt out.
As the eggs mature they turn grey if they have been fertilised.
There are two sheets of paper here the top one has eggs that are older
than in the bottom one, most of them will turn grey too.
Now for the projects.
My books for the Papermakers of Victoria Christmas book swap.
The internal pages are mulberry and they are sewn
with the silk thread that I made.

The text was corny - 'Have a very mulberry Christmas and a silky New Year.'
My boatish piece, it could almost be an insect lying on it's back.
The solid piece of silk was formed on some plastic mesh.

The insect uprighted!
A close up of the silk, it is rather lovely.
A Christmas tree, I dyed some of the cocoons using my paper dyes,
the chain is made from cross sections of cocoons
and the tree is stripped mulberry spray painted white.
A close look at the baubles and chain.
I made some flowers from the dyed cocoons.
The flowers could have been better made.
Our Christmas tree, this years theme is gold so the cocoons fit in well and they
stick quite well to the plastic tree.