Egyptians started making paper from a wetland plant called papyrus by layering strips of papyrus and pounding them together. Paper making is an intriguing process that can turn an ordinary plant into an essential piece of human communication. Making paper can also be done as a form of art, turning leaves and seeds into unique textures, colors and patterns.
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Paper From Leaves
All plants have some fiber in them, but certain plants have more fiber, which provides strength and elasticity to paper. Leaves of fibrous plants such as iris, yucca, corn, skins of onions and rice can be used to make paper.
Paper From Stalks
Plants with stringy stalks such as sunflowers, bamboo, wetland reeds and rushes can also be used to make paper.
Fiber that resides next to the outer bark of trees can be used to make paper; so can cotton fibers that surround cotton seeds. Cotton fibers produce some of the highest quality paper.
Common burdock can be used to make paper, and the entire plant--stem, root and leaves--can be cooked for fibrous pulp.
Cooking Plant Fiber
Live plants have to be immediately cooked in order to soften the fiber bonds and turn them into paper.
Blending or beating fibers after cooking is necessary in order for them to intertwine and soak up water. As plant fiber is beaten to a pulp, the water-filled fibers interlock and turn into a solution that can be dried into paper pages.