Remember my baby banana trees from way back in October 2016?
Back to the original tree. As instructed by my very experienced paper-making friends, I separated the tree into 3 sections; the leaves and leaf stems, the inner trunk and the outer trunk. Each part was cut into small pieces and put into a black garbage bag, tightly tied, and left in the sun to rot for 3-4 weeks. This is to soften the fibres before boiling with caustic soda in preparation for later pulping.
Having space for two pots I started with the trunk sections.
My reason for putting the plant material in bags when cooking is to make removal and washing easier, as can be seen below. The fibres ‘collapse’ and turn to mush when ready to be rinsed.
From left: rinsing the outer trunk in the tied pillowcase. Yes, I’ve got the sink plug in as wasting water feels like a crime to me. On the right you can see the final quantity of remaining fibre. The left-hand bag shows the amount of inner trunk and the larger bag has the outer trunk.
Wow, what a shock! I’ve hardly any fibre from a full-grown 2 1/2 metre high banana tree. Granted I still have the leaves to work with yet but I expected more than that. I’m told that the inner trunk makes finer and smoother paper than the outer, hence my decision to separate the two, but I’m not going to get more than a few sheets. Below you can see the difference in texture between them at this stage.
As it’s currently still very cold to be working for hours outside making paper (even though it’s officially Spring now. The studio is being refurbished) I’ve put these bags into the freezer to store until I’m ready to blend it to pulp and make my new paper.