Hand Papermaking with Okra
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Okra is the toughest of the three natural fibers I have made paper with so far.
It also required more treatment–I peeled the outer bark from the stems with a vegetable peeler:
And left the stems to dry for a few weeks:
I smashed the largest stems with a sledgehammer (any hammer would have done, but this was handy):
Then I used snips to cut the pieces up into chunks:
I boiled them with soda ash (1 T. per quart) for 6 hours, about twice as long as was needed for the daylily and the yucca:
I rinsed the okra and beat it to a pulp. At least I tried to beat it. It was still pretty tough and wasn’t getting as pulpy as the lily or the yucca. At last I got it to a semblance of suspension in the vat and tried a sheet.
It couched okay, but the fibers were larger than I was hoping.
I think I will cook them again and hope that helps. I imagine cooking them in lye would speed up the process, but for paper I prefer soda ash. I get enough of lye making soap.
Here is the dried and ironed result:
Here it is for comparison with the other papers so far, from left–okra, daylily, and yucca:
Next on the yard paper schedule: butterfly weed stems