Hand Papermaking with Yucca

by Daisy on 09/22/2008

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As I mentioned in a former post, I have been getting around to making paper from the plants in my yard and environs. This time it is yucca paper.

I decided to use the old, dried leaves instead of the green ones. These have been “retted” (allowed to break down) by nature, and I hoped would be easier to transform into paper pulp.

After cutting or yanking out the old leaves, I put them in a bucket to soak overnight, just as I did with my daylily leaves.

The next day, I rinsed and drained them and cut them into 1 inch pieces with a serrated knife. The yucca leaves were a lot tougher than the daylily and the fibers were much more obvious. I can see how they have been a source of fiber for artists’ brushes.

Again, as with the daylily, I cooked the chopped fibers in soda ash at a rate of 1 T. per quart, for three hours. I brought the water and soda ash to a boil, added the leaves, returned to the boil, reduced heat to a simmer, and timed the three hours from that point.

After the fibers were cooked and cooled, I washed the yucca with several changes (at least 10) of water until the rinse water was clean(ish). (It looked like wet hair).

I beat the fibers to a pulp (I love saying that), and repeated the papermaking process. The paper dried overnight and here it is:

It is a bit lighter in color than the daylily paper and speckled with golden yellow. It seems very strong and flexible. A big thumbs up on the yucca paper.

Next, I have my eye on the okra and asclepius tuberosa stalks and iris leaves.

Tags: papermaking,

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethany September 22, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Beautiful paper! I’d love to know what you come up with for the okra fibers, I’ve got a few of those to work with. When we lived in AZ, I always thought that the palm tree fibers would make great paper/crafting supplies, but never really got around to it.

Thanks for the comment on my blog, it’s much appreciated!

Tempyra September 23, 2008 at 7:45 am

Wow! That’s awesome. I wish I had yucca plants – I’d so try that!

Tomato Lady September 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Thanks, guys.

Bethany, I’m looking forward to the okra, too. Still have a few pods growing–almost ready to chop the plants down.

Tempyra- Any leaves that are hard to tear crossways probably have some paper potential–iris, daylily, etc.

I don’t know much about this but it’s fun experimenting. If you try it I’d love to see the results.

ga.farmwoman September 23, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Hey Tomato Lady,
I have some yucca plants around and lots of day lillies too.
That is a really good idea. It would make a great card/present to give someone and special too.
Good post!

Al September 5, 2009 at 12:50 am

I live in AZ and there are tons of these in neighbors yards. I think I’m going to introduce myself as the resident nut by asking for all their dead leaves lol. But one quick question. What is soda ash and where to I find it? (sorry if you explained it in another blog, new here and its taking me a while to get through them all)

Lizardbites January 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I’m envious that you have yucca plants. Have you ever tried making soap from the root?

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