mulberry experiment

A recent experiment between a friend and me:

Late June.
She a botanist, me a fiberist,
discovered a plant,
the paper mulberry,
or if you prefer Broussonetia papyrifera,
grows here as an invasive exotic.

So we relieve a local park of an unwanted pest plant
brought it home
stripped the bark and soaked it in water for two weeks to let it ret, a stinky rotting process even after multiple rinses throughout,
[I'm skipping the bubbly mess picture]
mixed it around
removed some of the outer bark pieces,and pulled it through a screen
to make paper.
It's quite lovely.


A wish to hear the thoughts of the person who invented this process while they were developing came to me as we made this.

The harvest portion of the experiment was a little itchy when handling new growth, it didn't last long once we rinsed our arms, but be forewarned.

In the future separate the outer bark and the inner bast fibers sooner, perhaps a week in, so they won't be intertangled.

Some of the dry bark coils were held back to develop material studies later. Plaiting and cording the unretted bark and retting some for a shorter time might result in a longer fiber for spinning string.

Wiki mentions paper mulberry is used to make tapa cloth all over the Pacific Islands. Add an additional process to the experiment list.

also posted:
by Liz the botanist, here (Part 1), here (mid-ret notes) and here (Part 2)

related to:
experiments with nettle posted here by Susan Kruse

top four images taken by Liz Martin


lines collide


Cedar Key again. Fishing line and tackle entangled just above a popular fishing spot.

One of my favorite signs read:
Keep our waterways tangle free,
Recycle your lines responsibly.

Those dangerous tangles captured my mind's eye and the image of them floating down in the depths has stayed with me.



Erin Curry pola of ghost houseCedar Key, FL

This past weekend we visited the coast with some family. While archeological evidence suggests human occupation of Cedar Key as far back as 500 B.C, between hurricanes and isolation, it seems to hover between here and gone. This ghost house sat abandoned to the currents just outside the one we stayed in onshore. We fished facing it, a constant reminder of our tidal presence here.


tangle wallet

A recent gift of a handmade wallet from one friend to another resulted in a frenzy of wallet making among the rest of us to create our own. The materials are those found in my kitemaking friend's studio: cuben fiber. Cuben is a cloth made of spectra fibers laid down and then laminated together. It's incredibly strong, translucent, and just needed to have a tangle captured in it.
The tangle above is a test tangle using industrial sewing thread; the final tangle is silk thread pulled from the margins of a bit of silk scrap. The wallet design itself is one Tim adapted from a bank paper wallet.


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