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i haven't forgotten you

hello, i haven't forgotten about adding new material here, but since the fall i told you about, i've managed to fall over another two times!  so now i have quite a bit of damage done to the ligaments etc in my wrists/hands/ arms.  basically, i've got to slow down just a little - i need longer days to get through all the things i want done, lol.

in the meantime i've changed craft rooms and discovered that moths had eaten into the plastic ziplock bags of most of my dried flowers, so there went 3 years worth of collecting and drying.  i wasn't impressed to say the least. the only satisfaction i got out of the whole thing was throwing the bags onto the fire - moths, grubs and all!

 anyway, i will return with more notes - then hopefully i can get back to making paper and dyeing
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break in my paper diary for a moment...

i talked to a lady at one of our local weekend markets today who makes her own paper!  i'm so excited to actually be able to TALK to someone who shares my interest in this fascinating craft.....my family are all very polite, but they just don't QUITE understand WHY i get so excited at times.  lol  they love me though, so they're patient!!

i'm still typing up my notes, though it's been a bit slow of late as i fell over and did a fair amount of soft tissue and ligament damage to both my arms, wrists and hands.  typing in an arm brace is EXTREMELY difficult!!  but things are improving slowly, the dr told me it'd take 6-8 weeks to heal, so i'm half-way there.

i'll keep working on my notes and posting them up for you to read - hopefully, somewhere, sometime, SOMEONE will actually find them helpful on their own paper journey.

on another note, i'd love to hear from anyone who makes their own papers or has an interest in natural dyeing....it gets a bit lonely talking to myself here at times  ;-)  i'd love to learn from you too.
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Umbrella Tree leaves

Using the centre vein of yellowed Umbrella Tree leaves
November 2009
- Due to all sorts of things needing my attention at this time of year, this particular experiment was quite extended.
10 November – Collected yellowed Umbrella Tree leaves from where they’d fallen in the garden.  Sliced each vein both sides and set vein aside.  The leaf sections I microwaved dry and stored for future use.
I cut each vein into small lengths and blended with a small amount of water.
Boiled 2 hours
Removed small sample of fibre, the remainder left to sit in boiler
12 November – Added 4 tablespoons of Washing Soda (Caustic Soda to break down fibres) and also enough water to make up to 1Litre of mixture.  Water instantly turned a thick syrupy yellow/green
Again left to sit
21 November – Finally returned to make paper sheets!!  
Batch no. 1:  using mordanted paper-pulp and adding DYE ONLY I pulled 4 sheets of very fine pulp of a beautiful soft pale yellow colour – almost cream

Batch no. 2:  using mordanted paper-pulp, remaining dye and FIBRES pulled 6 sheets.  Still that lovely yellow shade but with the added interest and texture of fibres.  I removed the thicker fibres from each sheet while still on the screen, as they’re very woody.
Very happy with the results!

Umbrella tree
Schefflera actinophylla
General information
Umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) is native to northern Queensland, north of the tropic of Capricorn. In its natural ecosystem it has maintained a balance with other native species, however when it is grown in southern Queensland this fast-growing invader out-competes local native species.  It is a prolific seeder, invading national parks, remnant bushland, undisturbed forests and reserves, causing harm to the local ecosystems’ flora and fauna.
evergreen tree grows up to 15 m flowers are spikes of red leaves are compound with stalks up to 40 cm long fruit is dark red, up to 5 mm long with a single seed

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Jacaranda Flowers Jacaranda mimosifolia

Jacaranda Flowers  Jacaranda mimosifolia
8 November 2009
Batch no. 1:  6 Nov. picked up a handful of wet flowers from a friends’ lawn
Batch no. 2:  7 Nov. picked up 2 handfuls of flowers from our own driveway
1 and 2 were blended with approx. equal VOLUME of mordanted paper, turning a frothy pale coffee colour
11 November 2009 – made both batches into paper
Batch no. 1 - only made the small test-sheet plus a ½ sheet of paper
Batch no. 2 – made the small test-sheet plus 3 sheets
All made a soft mottled brown, which is quite nice.  The mottled effect is from the flower-pieces themselves.
The paper differs in colour between the two batches.
Batch 1 appears to be a creamy very light beige
Batch 2 made with the fresher flowers is beige in colour.  The flowers in this 2nd batch are also uniformly smaller in comparison to the 1st batch test-sheet.
Both batches are quite nice, but not then shades of purple on would expect from Jacaranda flowers!

   Jacaranda mimosifolia
                                        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Blue Jacaranda, Jacaranda mimosifolia more often known simply as the "Jacaranda", is a sub-tropical tree native to South America that has been widely planted elsewhere because of its beautiful and long-lasting blue flowers. Older sources give it the systematic name Jacaranda acutifolia, but it is nowadays more usually classified as Jacaranda mimosifolia. It is also known as the Black Poui, or as the fern tree. In scientific usage, the name "Jacaranda" refers to the genus Jacaranda, which has many other members, but in horticultural and everyday usage, it nearly always means the Blue Jacaranda.
The tree grows to a height of 5 to 15 metres. Its bark is thin and grey-brown in colour, smooth when the tree is young though it eventually becomes finely scaly. The twigs are slender and slightly zigzag; they are a light reddish-brown in colour. The flowers are up to 5 cm long, and are grouped in 30 cm panicles. They appear in spring and early summer, and last for up to two months. They are followed by woody seed pods, about 5 cm in diameter, which contain numerous winged seeds. The Blue Jacaranda is cultivated even in areas where it rarely blooms, for the sake of its large compound leaves. These are up to 45 cm long and bi-pinnately compound, with leaflets little more than 1 cm long.

I came across this poem while searching for information on the Jacaranda tree and thought I’d save a copy with my notes.
(Val Donlon / Lesley Sabogal) (poem)
Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow Christmas in Australia's hot
Cold and frosty is what it’s not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near
From England came our Christmas fare
They even said what Santa should wear
But here down under for summers cool
Santa should dip in a swimming pool
Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia's hot
Cold and frosty is what it’s not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near
Santa rides in a sleigh on snow
But down here where the gum trees grow
Santa should wear some water skis
And glide around Australia with ease
Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia's hot
Cold and frosty is what it’s not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near
To ride around the bush where it’s dry
To cart all the presents piled so high
A red nosed reindeer would never do
Santa should jump on a kangaroo
Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia's hot
Cold and frosty is what it’s not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near
(Contributed by John Sanders - December 23)

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Red Carnation Hibiscus Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Red Carnation Hibiscus   Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
November 2009
This was a Dye experiment using Carnation Hibiscus flowers – quite a lovely small red flower, sometimes with a splash of white nearer the centre of the flower.
I wanted to see if there would be colour variations between the various “preserving” methods I use and fresh flowers.  I was amazed at the colour and the variation in colour that was achieved!
Once again I used the homemade sizing:- cornflour/rice flour/potato flour.  I’m quite happy with the results achieved with using it.
Batch no. 1:  
Fresh flowers boiled 1 hour with mordant paper (10%Alum/5%Cream of Tartar)
Left to sit overnight, then blended
Inclusions: Onionweed flowers, Periwinkle Flowers, burnt brittle alfoil
Batch no. 2: 
Fresh flowers blended with water, added paper (approx. equal VOLUME of mordanted paper to flowers) flowers blended to a dark crimson and turned dark purple/blue when paper added.
Sample sheet taken immediately – dried to green/blue.
Remaining blended mix left to sit in blender overnight – approx. 22 hours
Sample sheet dried to dark blue!
Inclusions: silver glitter
Batch no. 3: 
Frozen flowers – same process as batch no. 2
Pulp colour very similar in comparison with fresh flowers.
Inclusions:  small white flowers, dark blue and dark purple glitters.
Batch no. 4:          
                                                (dried petal)
Microwave-dried flowers – same process as batch 2 & 3
Though mix sat with Dandelion fluff and flowers in it
Extra Inclusions:  glitters in a gold base to tie in with the yellow of the Dandelion flower petals
Each batch has produced something a little different.  I like them all.

 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis                                                                               
General Information
Scientific name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Common name(s): Tropical Hibiscus, Chinese Hibiscus
Family: Malvaceae
Plant type: tree
Height: 7 to 12 feet                Spread: 6 to 10 feet
Plant habit: vase shape          Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: fast                   Texture: medium
This popular landscape shrub creates a bold effect with its medium-textured, glossy dark green leaves and vibrantly coloured, four to eight-inch-wide, showy flowers, produced throughout the year.  Cultivars are available with single or double flowers in shades of white, pink, red, yellow, peach, or orange, or combinations of these. Flowers are produced continuously in great abundance, making up for the fact that each flower will last only one or two days. Some selections have variegated foliage and appear to be covered with snow.
Uses: hedge; border; mass planting; specimen; container or above-ground planter; foundation; trained as a standard; espalier; accent; attracts butterflies; attracts hummingbirds

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Native Grape/Slender Grape – Cayratia clematidea

Native Grape/Slender GrapeCayratia clematidea
Early November 2009
Hubby and I went for a drive and overnight camp with friends, we had a really enjoyable trip and I collected all SORTS of things to ‘play’ with in my papers and dyes
  Among the various things collected were 4 or 5 brown tubers that we found growing on a bank and which I’ve since been able to identify as the Native Grape or Slender Grape Cayratia clematidea.
Sliced/chopped and boiled tubers
Batch 1: just dye and paper
Batch 2: dye plus blended tuber/paper boiled together for 1 hour
Batch 3: remaining vat contents blended with fresh paper pulp
                        I added glitter and sacred bamboo flowers and leaves to this lot.

* I used a homemade SIZEING MIX, mainly because I didn’t have any of the liquid starch I’ve been using as sizeing.
I made a paste using 100mls cold water mixed with 2 tablespoons cornflour, 2 tablespoons rice flour and 2 tablespoons potato flour and added to 300mls heated water.  This was way too thick, so added another 500mls of hot water to form a THICK liquid.  Totalling 900mls of Sizing.
Cayratia clematidea (VITACEAE); Slender grape

Herbaceous scrambler with compound leaves with fleshy leaflets which are sprinkled with soft shorthairs, each leaf is opposed by either tendrils or flowers on margins of rainforest, north from the Shoalhaven Gorges NSW.

Striate stems.
Small green flowers with 4 petals in summer.
Fruit is a 6mm wide berry.
"Forms a large tuber beneath the ground from which a new foliage sprouts each spring and dies away in autumn" (Robinson).
A single leaf and tendril  - The tendril is an extra-axillary lateral branch.                  

Flowers and foliage

A weak climber, sometimes getting woody and larger, but usually around 2m long. Often mistaken for a weed by those who have not learned its features, as it grows in much the same habitat and often alongside Balloon Vine, which it vaguely resembles.

It can be distinguised from Balloon Vine by having branching petiolules, the longest of which is for the terminal (largest) leaflet. Balloon vine leaves are arranged in three groups of three (biternate) and hairier. The three groups of leaves each have long stalks but the leaflets at the ends of the stalks then clasped (sessile) to the stem.

Cayratia clematidea tends to be duller, more blue-green and more wrinkled looking than Balloon Vine.
Cayratia clematidea leaflets are deeply toothed.
Flowers greeenish.
Local aboriginal tribes gathered the tubers of Cayratia clematidea and Cissus opaca as "yams". They prepared the tubers of Cayratia clematidea by beating them on stones before roasting. (Australian Subterranean Succulent Flora by Ian Menkins).

It can appear weedy, as it is a pioneer. It's excellent at plugging sunny gaps, but it is not a weed.

References and Resources
True friends, False Enemies - There are a lot of plants, many of them extremely important, that are in danger of being pulled as weeds because they don't have the classic "native plant" look, or closely resemble some well-known weeds. Abutilon oxycarpum, Acalypha nemorum, Cayratia clematidea - Slender Grape, Maclura cochinchinensis, Commelina diffusa, Dutchman's Pipe and Pearl Vine, Berry Saltbush (Einadia hastata), Ottochloa gracillima (a grass), Solanacea, Carex spp, Lobelia spp
© 2007 Brisbane Rainforest Action & Information Network

PO Box 3015 South Brisbane Qld 4101 Email:

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20 October 2009
Another ‘food dye’ experiment – CARROT!...
I used the juicer attachment on the blender and juiced a half carrot I had in the fridge plus a dried half carrot I found ‘hiding’ in the fridge.  The dried piece didn’t make ANY juice, so I worked with perhaps a tablespoon or two of carrot juice. I decided to also use the dry carrot bits as well.
I used mordant-soaked paper left-over from yesterday, then soaked in juice and ‘pulp’ for 3 or 4 hours after boiling for a half hour – I like the paper texture when boiled, soft and fine.
Used glitters, flower petals, Wild Carrot fronds and Chinese-Star Jasmine flowers laminated.  The Jasmine flowers ‘bled’ as a soft yellow!
For something completely new for me – I laminated a thin sheet of the carrot paper-pulp with some of yesterday’s plain ‘beetroot paper’ from batch no. 2 – so on one side of the paper is ‘carrot’ and the reverse side is ‘off-white’!
I worked with the pulp REALLY wet on the drying cloth and laid the plain paper on top.  Sprayed with water, placed the screen over the top and rubbed with the back of a spoon on the mesh to fuse the two pieces together.  Works well with no apparent separating of the two laminated sheets.


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Beetroot Juice

Beetroot Juice
Monday 19 October 2009
I’ve had a nice long break from making paper, though I spent the past 4 weeks collecting flowers and leaves – some to be used as “Inclusions”  others to see if they’d be suitable for dyeing – some flowers have been frozen, the rest microwaved dry.
2 or 3 days ago I opened a new tin of beetroot.  Instead of throwing the ‘juice’ away, I drained it into a container and added shredded paper and lint from the dryer.  Later I added small pieces of pink and white paper.
After soaking for 2 days I blended the mixture and pulled 6 sheets of paper, plus my sample piece.  I’m happy with the colour – it’s a strong pink, though I think I should have blended the pulp for longer.
Last night I made another batch of paper, using the coloured water from the vat, though this time I used paper that had been mordanted with Alum/Citric Acid. Pulled 10 sheets.  Some sheets were “embossed” with Wild Carrot Sprigs, others had flowers/petals pressed into one surface and yet others were laminated.  Some of the flowers and petals used ‘bled’ into the paper – I quite like the effect.  And as is quite normal, there has been some transference of previous coloured batches onto the wet pulp from the drying cloths.  Again I quite like the effect.
Added 2 x 2ml measures of Bi-carb soda to the blender to balance out the Mordant and the vinegar in the juice.  Achieved a Neutral Ph.
 The most noticeable difference
between Batch 1 & 2 – Colour!

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Lilly Pilly Leaves - Syzygium australe

Lilly Pilly
19 September 2009
After walking around the lilly pilly encroaching on the walkway, I decided it was time to prune it and naturally, I had to see what could come of it all...
Collected approx. ½ boiler of new leaves
Boiled 2 hours (lilly pilly leaves smell MUCH better than other leaves/fibres)
Soaked 60gms shredded paper in a mordant of 10%Alum/5% Tartaric Acid
- this time I tested the Ph levels of mordant and it was highly acidic – added 18gms of bi-carb soda to neutralize it.
Before proceeding with pulling sheets, I once again tested Ph levels – extremely alkaline, need to go slower, next time when adding bi-carb soda.
Batch 1:- 5 sheets
- blended mordanted paper
Soaked in dye bath
Batch 2:- 8 sheets
- blended mordant soaked paper with leaf/fibre mush, and whatever dye left in vat.

my camera hasn't picked up the yellow/gold tones of this beautiful paper - though it's probably more correct that I haven't been spending enough time learning how to use my camera correctly to achieve the truer colour tones of my papers.

Botanical: Syzygium australe
Common: Brush Cherry
Also known as:
* Scrub Cherry
* Australian Rose Apple
* Creek Cherry
* Height 7-10m, Width: 3-8m
* Full Sun to Partial Shade
* Flowers: Summer to Autumn
* Frost: Tolerant of Light to Medium frosts
Australian native tree grown for colourful new growth, beautiful flowers and decorative fruit.
Features: Dense, evergreen tree with oval, glossy green leaves on pendulous branches. Red to copper-brown new growth, profuse, fluffy, cream flowers in Summer and Autumn followed by clusters of edible, pink, purple to red coloured fruit.
* eat fruit fresh or make jam

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Recycled Cardboard Packaging

Sunday 20 September 2009
My mum and dad visited for a couple of night and, of course, mum and I talked craft, particularly her cards and my paper.  I gave her a sheet of each batch I’ve made this year – which she thought was wonderful.  Mum gave me 3 or 4 A4 sheets of card and paper that she’d bought – very nice of her too.  She also gave me some pieces of cardboard that had been the packaging from dad’s bike helmet – glossy black on the outside, brown paper on the inside, separated by corrugated card.  Mum thought I might use it in my card making, but I already have more than enough for that sort of thing.  I decided to ‘recycle’ it into paper!  Naturally!!!!
Spent an hour or so tearing the box apart – peeling off the gloss black and brown paper surfaces and then ripping it all down into small pieces.
From there I boiled it all for a couple of hours then blended it with some lavender leaves – about 4 handfuls of fresh stuff – and turned it into paper!
Turned out a sort of pale “café latte” colour.
1st batch:- 6 sheets – just as it was from the blender
2nd batch:- 6 sheets – added crumbled brittle alfoil from the fire pit, after it had been repeatedly burnt – also a little sprinkle of brown eye shadow
3rd batch:- 6 sheets – added dandelion fluff for a subtle texture.
  I’m rather pleased with it, actually!