Paper can be produced from any fibrous material such as wood, cotton, or fruit and vegetable peel. Old waste paper can be pulped and recycled together with additional plant fibres to make new paper. Bananas are one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants. Aside from the fruit’s nutritional value, banana peel, stalks, and tree bark can be pulped to make high quality paper and textiles.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Unripe peel from 4 bananas
- Wooden frame
- Nylon or wire screening
- Staple gun
- Scraps of waste paper
- Plastic basin
- Large spoon
- Clothes pegs or bulldog clips
- Thin clothes line or string
- Apron or old clothing
Peel the unripe bananas and cut each separate skin into six to eight pieces. Dry the skins by placing them on a table or window sill in a sunny position. Leave the skins until they turn completely black and dry. Depending on local weather, this could take between one and two days.
Add warm water to the blender until it is half full. Measure a volume of shredded waste paper equal to half the volume of water and place that into the blender. Blend at medium speed until the mixture becomes a smooth slurry.
Place the blackened and dry banana skins into a saucepan of boiling water. Leave the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes and stir occasionally. Ensure that the combined volume of water and banana skins can fit into the blender together with the paper slurry. Allow the banana skin mixture to cool and pour in to the blender. Whizz the combined pulp at high speed until it has a smooth texture.
Staple the nylon or wire mesh onto the wooden frame to make a screen, or deckle. If you wish, you can buy a deckle from art shops. Place the screen at the bottom of the plastic basin. Pour the pulp over the screen to a 1mm thickness. Press the pulp in place by hand making sure that it is evenly spread. Leave until all the water has evaporated. This may be overnight or 24 hours depending on the weather.
Peel the dry paper gently from the screen. Use small clothes pegs or bulldog clips to hang the paper on a clothes line or string until it is completely dry. Take down from the line and use the paper.
Tips and warnings
- Wear old clothes or a large apron during the paper making. This is a very messy process.
- Avoid using glossy paper among the waste paper scraps. The lamination does not mix well with the other fibres.
- Add pigment to the pulp to make different coloured papers.
- Use an old picture frame to make a deckle by substituting the glass in the frame with a nylon or metal mesh.
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