This was a strenuous, fun, NOISY day! My first experience with transforming an old pair of jeans into paper.
Now to meet the beater:
It’s a monster machine, very noisy when in operation and apparently worth a small fortune.
Clockwise from left: 1) The prepared beater with water already in the channel. The hanging hose is used for draining when the process is complete. 2) Ensuring the rotating struts are clean, ready to turn and grind the denim to pulp. 3) Once the beater is turned on the denim pieces are slowly added. The handle to the left is wound to increase the water movement pressure and grinding process through the water wheel. As the denim becomes softer and starts breaking down the resistance is increased and the denim disintegrates into smaller fibres.
These photos were taken towards the beginning of the process and on the left you can clearly see the pile of denim squares being slowly pushed around the channel. On the right …. well, what has happened here?
The jeans were given to me washed and rinsed. I then washed them another 4 times with no soap to ensure I would avoid any soap suds. Who would believe how much soap could still be in the fabric? I spent the first beating hour constantly removing as much foam as I could. In addition, colour was coming out of the fibres and I was anxious to avoid accidentally dyeing the floor, the mop or my clothes. I ended up having to wash my sweatshirt part way through as it became spattered with blue dye.
Clockwise from left: 1) Unclogging the wheel when there is a backlog of fibre trying to enter this area. 2) I removed some of the semi-pulped denim to add back at the end. This will add some texture into the finished paper sheets. 3) The fully pulped denim (after 2 1/4 hours) ready to be removed from the beater, drained and stored.
Once removed from the beater into multiple buckets I strained the pulp into one, with a small amount of water. The courser semi-ground fibres were mixed back into this. So I’ve now got a huge container, labelled (heaven help anyone pinching any of it after hours of work) and ready to form into lovely sheets of paper.
I’ll split my pulp into batches, form some paper sheets from this original colour then experiment with adding dyes to create a variety of papers. I hope that by adding yellow I’ll get a decent green, I’d also like to attempt a darker blue. I guess I’ll try some red and see what type of purple comes out but that’s not my preferred colour. The next dilemma will be what colour to use when I print on it in the future.
The next stage will come in a couple of weeks when I get back to the Centre to create my paper.