Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Papyrus Paper

Remember my weekend post about the benefits of a cluttered office or home. Manufacturing of papyrus paper has been one of the causes of the clutter, recently. We have made recycled paper on several occasions and when I saw these kits in the Rainbow Resource catalog, I thought it would be a fun, though not taxing, addition to our Ancient Egypt study. In reality we have had papyrus pulp soaking in the kitchen for a couple of weeks. We didn't just have one container either; we had two so each child could have his own project.

Making papyrus paper goes something like this.
  • They soak the pulp while sloshing sticky papyrus water all over the counters while they are watching the progress,
  • They roll with my nice rolling pin while I wonder whether the rolling pin will be fit for pastry after its tour of paper making with my over zealous children
  • They slosh water all over the floor as they transport old water to the sink and refill for the next round of soaking,
  • They soak for another 3 days while asking me, "Is it ready yet?"
  • They roll the papyrus pulp more vigorously this round, splashing water all over the kitchen as the rolling pin presses absorbed water out of the papyrus,
  • They slosh water out of the trays onto the floor as they get fresh water,
  • They soak, again,
  • Then, using about 10 dish cloths per child they lay out the fibers in a criss cross pattern overlapping each piece, press the papyrus between 2 dish cloths until all moisture is absorbed using my nice rolling pin, and flatten the "paper" as much as possible,
  • Then they transfer "paper" to some newspaper sections and weight it with stacks of books which I had in abundance since I didn't "organize and clean" this weekend. They didn't even have to leave the kitchen to gather enough weight
  • Finally, they continue to switch out the newspaper until the "paper" is dry and paper like.
Unfortunately, our "paper" is not paperish, even with all the waiting, rolling, soaking, rolling, and flattening. A sample paper came with our kit and it looks like silk dupioni while ours looks like burlap. I suppose we should have soaked and rolled more, but I don't think I could have handled the accident waiting to happen trays lurking in my kitchen any longer.

See what wonderful things can happen if you are open to a bit of clutter.

Next, we will experiment with smut ink and hieroglyphics. I hope the paper is usable.

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