Kitchen Papermaking


A How-To Guide to Paper from Daylilies

Daylilies (hemerocallis fulva) are not only weeds, they are useful plants; the flowers, roots, leaves, and stems all have uses. I harvest leaves for paper pulp beginning in June once they have achieved their full leaf growth. They can be harvested right through the late fall until snow covers them. Mid-season pulps will have stronger fiber, a depth of green (which will fade) and be delightful to work with, even for the kitchen papermaker.

You can safely process daylily in your kitchen, using a stainless steel stockpot, but it’s better if you can have a separate pot for such things. Harvest a few large handfuls of leaves, cutting about two inches above the ground. Cut up the harvested leaves (only) into 1-2 inch lengths, and cover with water (they will bob right up). Add a handful of washing soda. You don’t have to have this, but it cooks more quickly with it. Cooking time will vary greatly, but you want to bring the pot to a boil, then maintain at a simmer for about an hour.

The pulp is ready when the fibers in a section of leaf slide easily away from each other. Test after 30 minutes. There is a distinctive odor to the cook that some papermakers detest; you must cook in a well-ventilated area. After cooking, cool, then rinse the fiber. Line a colander with cheesecloth or similar fabric, and pour pulp into it. Then rinse with running water until it runs clear. Use a blender (it’s best if this is a studio, not a kitchen blender) but for one time only you may be able to clean it well enough to use for food usage. The rinsed, cooked pulp should be fairly safe to handle; your cleanup should be thorough.

Place a handful of daylily “stuff” in a blender, fill up ¾ with water and blend. Start low for about 30 seconds, increase speed for up to a minute. Pour out the pulp into a container until you have enough to charge or half fill your vat. A dishpan vat works well. Have a stack of felts cut a bit larger than your mould. Handi-wipes or cut pellon work fine for felts. Now you can make some paper!

A simple 5×7 picture frames with nylon window screening stapled around the edges works well as a mould, a second frame can fit on top of that if you like, creating a deckle. You can also make round paper using small embroidery hoops. The deckle is very handy, but not necessary for small sheets.

Pulp in your vat should be like thin oatmeal. Dip your pre-wetted mould under the pulp surface from vertical to horizontal, down-under-up-little shake is your mantra. Drain out most of the water, then couch (roll) the paper off the mould onto a felt.  You may coax the pulp free by pressing from the underside of the mould. Hang the felt on a line to dry, or transfer to a window or board. When dry, carefully peel off, or if they have dried and curled, carefully uncurl and weigh down with books.

Supplies you will need:

daylily leaves, cutting tool, non-reactive cooking pot (stainless), washing soda, colander, running water (or fresh water to pour) thin cloth, frame with nylon screening to go over and secure, Handi wipe or pellon, drying surface.

For more information about paper artist Velma Bolyard, visit her blog, Wake Robin at: Wake Robin is the name of her paper mill. Bolyard recommends the following papermaking sources: Yahoo papermakers group; Gin’s Place; Arnold Grummer Helen Heibert’s books, Hand Papermaking Journal. For supplies: Twinrocker Handpapermaking supplies; Carriage House Handpapermaking supplies