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).
Next, I have my eye on the okra and asclepius tuberosa stalks and iris leaves.
The book I consult most for papermaking is The Art and Craft of Papermaking, by Sophie Dawson. It’s from 1992, and I’m sure there are lots of newer books on papermaking, but this has been an excellent resource for me. It has tons of gorgeous photography and illustrations of both historical and modern examples of paper craft, plus detailed instructions on beginning basic and creative, artistic techniques. I’ve spent a lot of time poring over this beautiful book.
If you can’t find soda ash (washing soda) in the laundry aisle of the supermarket, you can order it online here.
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