The Daylily Paper Is Made!

by Daisy

In an earlier post I told you how I made papermaking material out of dried daylily leaves from lovely plants like the one above (the leaves, not the flowers). Here I’ll show how I transformed that “stuff” (an actual papermaking term, technical-sounding, isn’t it?) into four, 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of paper.

Pound the Pulp

I stored my cooked daylily material in the freezer in one-cup portions and removed one cup to thaw overnight. The next day, I pounded the pulp on a thick, very sturdy butcher’s block-style cutting board with a wooden mallet.

This was a learning experience. For one thing, the pulp flies everywhere. I really needed a splash-guard of some type, but I just kept collecting the errant pieces of daylily and putting them back on the board. Secondly, I wasn’t quite sure when to stop. The Art And Craft of Papermaking says to put a portion of it in a jar of water and shake. If it is suspended in the water and clump-free, it is ready. I skipped this step (because I had forgotten about it), and used my best judgment. I noticed that the pounded pulp had a slightly mucilaginous quality–it became a little bit slimy after beating, and I took this as a good sign–some sort of transformation had occurred.

Add Water

I added a quart of water to my pounded pulp in a mixing bowl to see what I had. It felt soft and pulpy. Now I had to decide how much water to add to my vat (a shallow, rectangular plastic rubbermaid container). This was decided largely by how much volume I needed in order to get the mould and deckle below the level of the water/pulp without diluting the pulp excessively. I added water a quart at a time, testing the level with my mould and deckle with each quart until I arrived at the magic number: 8 quarts seemed to do it.

Form a Sheet

Holding the deckle tightly on top of the mould I dipped it under the surface and — Okay. True confession time. My first sheet I put the mould on top of the deckle (they look the same when you hold them together!!) and had to “kiss off” the first sheet from the wrong side of the mesh. Embarrassing. Note: “kissing off” is another of those papermaking terms I am learning. It means to replace a malformed sheet of paper back into the vat by touching the mesh to the surface of the water. So. . . my second sheet I dipped the mould and deckle into the vat and submerged them into the pulp. I brought it up and tried to shake it from side to side and front to back until it appeared a fairly even coat of pulp had dispersed itself over the surface of the mould.

Remove the Deckle
This was the easy part. (Now that the deckle was on top of the mould). Looking good. Now, on to the couching. (Pronounced kooshing, from the French coucher, to lay down).


Here is my couching set up:

It is simply a water-resistant board, larger than the felts which are in turn larger than the sheets of paper you are going to couch. My “felts” are rectangles of polarfleece. Wool is traditional, but I am not in possession of a good, tatty wool blanket suitable for sacrifice at the moment. To top it off, I have another large, thick board.

I flopped the mould over onto a felt laid on top of the bottom board and peeked underneath. The sheet had not magically detached from the mould. Hmm. I took a towel and blotted from the top, pressing down in hopes of marrying the sheet to the felt.

Peeked again. Some progress. The sheet was beginning to detach. Kept blotting. It worked. Eventually. It was touch and go for a while, though.

I made three more sheets before the amount of pulp in the water had diminished to the point it no longer formed a sheet that covered the mould. One is supposed to anticipate this and have a ready supply of additional pulp to add after you have removed some. Next time I will be more prepared, but for now I am happy with my four novice sheets.

I placed a couple of dry felts on top of the last sheet and topped the small post (a post is the term for a stack of sheets) with the second board and put a large jardiniere on top of that. Excuse me? Well, it was heavy, and I didn’t have any clean bricks.


In a couple of hours, I returned and removed the jardiniere and the top board. I hung up my sheets, still attached to the cloths, using bent paper clips as hangers.

By next day, the sheets had dried on their felts and were easy to pull off. They had shrunk slightly.

They make a nice, papery sound when I flutter a sheet, are very flexible, and tougher than the average sheet of paper. I think it would make an excellent accent on a card or collage art. Here is a closer shot after a quick press with the iron to smooth and flatten them out a bit:

I am looking forward to experimenting with other types of plant matter from my environs: iris leaves, yucca leaves, asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) stems and okra stems are on my short list. I can’t wait.


Tags: papermaking, daylilies

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

belinha August 31, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Hi!Just found in FMB,I’m ther too!Amazing how you did paper from leaves of flowers!Enjouyed it a lot!

Stephanie September 2, 2008 at 11:26 am

That turned out very nice. I’ve done a lot with daylily, but never made paper!

Tomato Lady September 2, 2008 at 5:10 pm

Thank you! It was fun. I can’t stop looking at it.

Mike January 29, 2010 at 11:22 am

Hi, I made paper from daylily leaves too. I used the leaves while they were fresh and green. I cut them into small pieces with scissors and cooked them in soda ash for awhile to break down the leaves. I rinsed the mash well and ran it through the blender. It made beautiful green paper. I made some sheets cutting the pulp with white cotton linter too. It was time consuming but well worth it.

Travie October 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I have a friend at school who made this for a science project. (He was the only one who got an A.)

Joy Smith January 8, 2013 at 9:31 am

Love how yours’ turned out. I too worked on making the paper from 100% daylilies in the same way. Isn’t it amazing how it turns out! It’s thin and takes ink well so far as I can tell. I found that using wax paper helped tremendously in getting it off the felting which I did first. I roll it out with my marble rolling pin squeezing out most of the water and it takes the markings of the screen off, too. I sure will be making this a lot more. Let me know if you’ve had luck with the other plants you mentioned you would try:-)

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