Sunday, 15 November 2009

Paper making workshop

There's more to our farm than just the farmer and myself. Anyone who has visited the website will quickly see that there are others. The others are the farmer's son and his very capable partner, and our 3 and a 1/2 workers. Together we are able to run the farm, garden and some more besides.

One of the besides is CARTS. CARTS is a joint venture between ATEC and the Botanical Garden. CARTS stands for Colectivo Artistico Reciclando en Talamanca por la Sostenibilidad, a Recycled Arts Collective for a Sustainable Talamanca (our area of Costa Rica), and is a collective of women artists working with recycled materials producing unique, useful, artistic pieces.

CARTS is sponsoring free workshops at the farmers' market the second Saturday of each month. Each workshop focuses on an art project with recycled materials. This past Saturday it was paper making with the very capable partner.

Paper making is simple, and it's fun. Take used paper - for example newsprint, old notes, yellow pages, receipts, whatever, and tear into strips then 1 to 2 inch squares. Soak for at least an hour, then whizz in a blender 'til it's the consistency of oatmeal. Pour into a tub with more water and agitate (small leaves, petals, other decorations can be added at this point). Take your screen and deckle and in a smooth movement lower at an angle into the tub, level off and bring up horizontally. Allow the water to drain. Remove the deckle and in another smooth movement invert the screen with the paper pulp onto a waiting piece of felt. Press the paper through the screen to ensure separation then lift the screen. Use a sponge to press - gently - to remove excess water. If you have enough space, the paper can be left to dry further on the felt. If not transfer to newsprint and place in the sun or somewhere airy to dry. For best results place weights on the paper to improve writing texture and form.

The workshop took place in the middle of the market space to a good sized audience of adults, a child or two, and stall holders. The participants ranged from complete novices to those who had experience and were there for the fun of helping and making. Some of the locals had never seen paper made before and were impressed at how easy it was with recycled paper - part of the purpose of these workshops is to encourage re-use and recycling (two concepts oddly new to this culture which is quickly becoming as throwaway as the US and Europe ever was). It was a successful workshop with people proudly leaving supporting freshly made sheets decorated with petals, leaves and coloured print.

December's workshop will be baskets made from tetrabrik, January I'll give a workshop on purses crotcheted from plastic rice and sugar bags. CARTS is putting together a catalogue of products, I'll try to link it to this blog.

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thanks for sharing!