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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Slush fun

Nathan always says, "No." Unless it's plugged in or battery-run, he resists trying whatever I propose. So when I reminded him that we were going to learn how to make paper Wednesday afternoon, he moaned and fussed.

"Why didn't you WARN me?" he droned.

"I did. Many times. You tuned it out." It's a yogic practice to keep from throttling your own children on some days.

Madelyn was all for it--she'll try most anything as whatever is new intrigues her.

A few months ago, I did a Yoga Bodywork session in exchange for learning how to make paper. The client is an artist, was a museum curator and teacher, and does paper-making workshops at area colleges, art centers, etc. She has a barn studio and all the materials. She had tables set up under two trees, in the shade (because making paper in the sun dries the pulp too quickly), and she told us to come "ready to get wet" because making paper is a slushy business.

First she asked: "Who made the first paper?"

After a few guesses and a pause, Nate mumbled, "I'm lost."

Our teacher exclaimed, "You're right! It was the wasp." (Lucky mumble, Nate). She showed us an empty wasps' nest, pulling off a piece of the top layer, paper so thin you could see through it.

"You can use anything to make paper," she continued, "but it must be from a plant." Then she pointed to a bush by the house. "That's papyrus, what the Egyptians used for their paper. The Egyptians and Chinese were the first to make paper."
(We'll be doing Egypt for history in the fall and Ancient China in the spring. Perfect!)

We poured watery pulp into a frame with a screen at the bottom, lowered it into a water bath, and slooshed the pulp in the water. Pulling the frame straight up, the water drained out, and a layer of wet, even pulp remained. Carefully detaching and lifting off the frame, there lay a sheet of paper. To press out the water, we used shammies, wringing out the water repeatedly.

We cut flower petals and leaves from around the garden to add to subsequent batches, and our teacher had bins-upon-bins full of spices, glitter, grasses, dyes and dye-cuts. Nathan made a couple sheets and proceeded to pace around the yard. Madelyn made several more, doing "better than my high school kids," according to our instructor.

"If I lived here, I would make paper all the time," Madelyn said.

As we prepared to leave, Nathan thanked our host. "This was a lot more fun than I expected," he said.

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