Making Harakeke Paper

It is amazing to work with such a versatile plant, harakeke (engl. flax, phormium tenax) is not only such a valuable plant for weaving, rope making and medicinal use to name a few. You can make paper out of 100 percent harakeke fibres. During this years studies I have the opportunity to learn to make harakeke paper.

I used my waste bits from harvesting for weaving, cutting pieces about 1 to 2cm long (its a very time intense occupation,). I cut about 500g and soaked the whole lot for about 48 hours in water. Then it had to be boiled with in water with added soda ash (I used washing crystals from the supermarket).boiling flax pieces

boiling harakeke

Boiled for about 3 hours, it depends on the harakeke how long it needs to be boiled, important is that the leaf starts to fall to bits. Finished that, I rinsed it well till the leaves dont feel slimy anymore. Afterwards it goes into the flax beater (Hollander) which beats the fibres till its ready to use (it took about 20 min).beating paper in the hollander

Clare and the hollander (beater)

I personally like to have it beaten so there are still fibers visible.

The pulp is then ready for the actual paper making. It took a bit to figure out the proportion of water to pulp, I guess its personal preference and depending on the use if you want to have thicker or thinner paper.paper pulp Birgit Moffatt
yummy pulp

These are a few examples of my paper, which I will use in my art work. I didnt size my paper as I dont intend to write on it at that stage.Harakekepaper (8)
detail harakeke paper, so gorgeous

silk, eco print stitched on flax paper
eco printed silk stitched on harakeke paper

leaf embedded in harakeke flax paper
dyed akeake leaf embedded in harakeke paper

crunched harakeke paper
just lovely crunched up paper (crunched wet and let dry so it keeps the shape)

finished flax paper by Birgit Moffatt
a simple sheet

2 replies

Comments are closed.