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Paper to Plants – A Messy Workshop

Though it was hotter than we would have liked, the sun was a welcome sight after having had our paper making workshop rained out the first time.  Knowing how messy the process was, we decided to set up our work tables and equipment on the sidewalk in front of the office.  And it’s a good thing we got an early start because just as expected, things did go wrong.  First it was the power strip that didn’t work necessitating our having to unplug one of our staff.  Then it was a blender that quit on us before we even got started, leaving us with just one that worked.   Luckily, our group was small enough that it didn’t matter.

Tearing paper into tiny pieces.
Blending paper into a slurry.
We began by passing out mini-folders that we had made from recycled manila folders,  They contained simple instructions, a sample of the finished project and a template to use as a cutting guide.  After presenting an overview of the project,  we led two at a time outside while the others stayed in to chat and enjoy the refreshments. Outside we stepped them through the process of making seed-embedded paper.  We had each participant tear 5 sheets of used text paper into tiny pieces, add the prescribed amount of water, blend the two into a slurry and then pulse in a scant amount of flower seeds.  The slurry was than poured onto screens, spread evenly around and then laid between pieces of felt to have the water extracted with a rolling pin.  Knowing the paper takes hours to dry, we had to cut box cardboard into rectangles and cover them with aluminum foil. 
Rolling out the excess water.
Measuring carefully.
 Everyone was thrilled with the finished product and carried their wet sheet of paper home on our makeshift trays to dry. Before they left, they inquired about having a second part to the workshop to learn how to turn their paper into gift tags.  We’re working on scheduling a date.
 A new sheet of paper!

A big “Thank You” goes out to Pat Rosen of the Gibson Nature Preserve and Wild Ones, chapter 38 for donating the Midwestern Wildflower seeds.

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