Material Witness will focus on extreme textile process. Images will be posted here showing the history of my work, new work, developing projects and inspiration.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Continued Paper Experiments With Broom

EEE YUCK! My house is wafting the smell of fermented broom.

It is on the stove again for two hours. It would be outside on the fire pit but there is a fire ban in this hot and dry weather. Outside it would only smell a little.

I tried to blend it and it nearly killed the poor blender. So I took it out and set the soaking vegetation outside in the sun for 2 more days. It fermented which was a promising sign until the jar lid was removed.
Phew! It smelled like a pool of effluent from Hell. Hard to describe but not like broom. Thrilling because fermentation breaks down lots of difficult fibers.

The broom was blended it again. It broke down a little. And again and it broke down enough for me to make a very fibrous paper. But I want a finer tooth. So the stinking swill went into the biggest pot I had and was put on the stove on hard boil for 15 minutes and simmered for two hours. Oh! Awful. All windows and doors open.

I suspect two things. One is that the broom paper made before used new spring growth. With a whack of caustic soda but  didn't this time because the enamel pot is in Vancouver. Caustic soda is very corrosive to aluminum pots. It is also known as lye.  Soap is made with it but used in smaller quantities and in glass pans and bowls. Lots of soap will be needed when this project is finished.

The nature of experimentation is that if you record what has happened  a failure is as useful as a success. Trust me this will be recorded. Time, dates, ingredients, weights, outside and inside temperatures  and all equipment. Just like I was educated to do. And then I will try, try again.

More later.

I love science. 

To be continued.

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