Sunday, March 9, 2014

More Phragmites Pulp

I tried to make more paper last week out of phragmites, but found that I wasn't getting enough pulp to cover the screen as I lifted it from the water - a clear sign that more pulp is needed. So I've spent a lot of time this week processing the last batch of dried phragmites collected last fall. (Note to self - next time you collect phragmites, separate the outer stalks from the inner stalks BEFORE you cut it into pieces.) As a result of not doing this the first time around, I've spent a lot of time picking through all the cuttings and pulling out the tough inner stalks as they don't break down no matter how many times I boil and chop them.

The whole phragmites process is time-consuming. It's not bad...just slow. First I boil the cuttings for 2-3 hours. Then I rinse it all and chop it in a blender. Then I boil it again for another 2-3 hours, rinse again, and then finally I chop it once more until it becomes a fine, consistent pulp. 

Picture 1 - cuttings after one boil. Picture 2 - cuttings after a boil and one time through the blender. 
Picture 3 - cuttings after a boil, a blend, another boil, and a final blend.