Sunday May 31st saw the sunny garden at the Oak Park Fieldhouse busy with seed-paper making. Under the shady tent members of the Border Free Bees project, with the help of passers-by and visitors to Oak Park, made over 75 sheets of seed paper made from recycled materials. Have you ever made your own paper? It’s so simple, meditative and pleasing.
We began with a large rectangular basin, filled with a mix of water and pulp made right in our kitchen. You can also make your own pulp with shredded paper and a hand-blender. It has the consistency of porridge before being added to the water basin. It’s a great way to recycle any uncoated paper product, and make something wonderful and new. The colour is slightly grey, as it is a mix of different bond paper, with ink and images from printed documents.
Using what are referred to as ‘decals’ – a wooden frame with screening matched up against another wooden frame – we dunked, panned and drained the pulp into unique sheets of paper. While some aspects of the process are delicate and requires a little finessing, the best part is that any mistakes or flaws can easily be re-submerged and re-made. But, as with all things hand-made, we don’t mind a few little oddities.
Each sheet is sprinkled with seeds, tiny and flat so as to bind to the surface of paper. These seeds are Yellow Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis), sometimes referred to as “Basket-of-Gold,” and when planted produce small yellow clusters of flowers. A chamois cloth is gently placed over the pulpy surface. Acting as a backing, the chamois provides necessary support for the delicate paper.
After sponging and carefully removing the sheet from the decal, they are hung on a clothes-line to dry. The dried paper varies in thickness, depending on how much pulp you are working with. All this seed-paper will eventually be laser-cut into multiple small stylized bees to be part of the upcoming Richmond Art Gallery exhibition, For All Is For Yourself. With over 450 sheets of paper and counting, we are well on our way to make an impressive hive of seed-paper bees!
Are you interested in learning more about our project and how to make seed-paper? It’s a great activity for summer, for the garden and for fun! Come join us next Saturday, June 6th at the Oak Park Fieldhouse to meet the team, learn more about our Border Free Bees project and have fun in the garden! See you at the Fieldhouse.
All photos by Geoff Campbell.