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In my “For the Birds” public art project and residency at Point Reyes, CA, working with children in West Marin School and supported by Gallery Route One (www.galleryrouteone.org) and the Lucid Art Foundation with additional support from the West Marin Community Foundation, I used 7 local plants to make the handmade paper for the hundreds of paper feathers to hang from the big nest in the Commons and the many smaller nests installed int he trees along main street (Hwy. 1) in Point Reyes Station.  

The paper pulp has seeds to feed the birds and I also used some pulp made from old blue jeans and abaca (musa textilus) as well as these 7 local plants:

Olive tree bark



The olive bark pulp was a nice tan color and interesting texture, but a little difficult to remove from the papermaking mould.

Eucalyptus bark



I think eucalyptus bark pulp is great and a nice rich dark brown color.  I gathered the bark that was peeling off the giant trees along the roadside in this part of California. 

Willow bark (Salix arroya)



These willow trees are everywhere along the roadsides in the Point Reyes area.  The road maintenance crew was trimming back the trees so they don’t cover up the road!  I was able to get many branches that were useful for papermaking as well as for making the nests.  This willow is not so bendable as weeping willow, but still a great material for basketmaking as well as the bark being useful to make paper pulp.  I like the color of the paper, a nice golden tan, but I think I needed to cook it longer as it was still very tough and stringy even after cooking for 4 hours. 

Crocosmia leaves


This flower is a member of the lily family, and the flowers are yellow and looks somewhat like day lily.  It was growing in the West Marin School garden near where we were making the handmade paper feathers for this public art project.  It proved to be an excellent plant for papermaking.

Canna leaves


There were also many canna lily flowers in the school garden.  This one has beautiful red flowers.  The leaves look big and promising for papermaking, but actually it gave little pulp.  The leaves cook down so much that only a handful of pulp remained after the preparation.  The paper is nice and crisp but it is probably not worth the trouble since the yield is so little.

Cattail leaves



Cattail leaves are great for making paper, and I have used this plant before in Taiwan and other places.  There are many cattails growing along the Tomales Bay in the Point Reyes area.  This is one of the most plentiful plants for papermaking in the area and it makes great paper…a nice tan color and good texture. 

Corn husks



Corn husks are good for papermaking although the texture is a little rough.  I got the corn husks by saving all the husks from the corn we ate during the 3 -week residency….yum.  Corn husks are also easy to get at the local grocery store as usually they take away some outside husks before putting the corn out for sale.

If you have any questions or want more information just email me.  I made a sample book for Gallery Route One and Lucid Art Foundation that has the complete recipe and samples of paper made from all 7 of these plants used in the “For the Birds” project, Sept. 7 – 25, 2013.