This information is reprinted from the Beginner Topics column of Hand Papermaking Newsletter #68 (October, 2004).
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As I write this the gardens are in full bloom and when you read it many gardens will still have flowers. One of the longest blooming makes one of the best additives for hand papermaking: the marigold. The blooms of this hardy plant yield a wide range of bright yellow to deep orange petals which hold their color when added to paper pulp. They may be pressed in a simple flower press or allowed to dry on a screen. The seeds that cling to the petals may be removed or used (artistic license). Keep in mind that you may get some bleed in the sheets from many types of flower petals. Marigold has little bleed.
Other flowers I have used are Monarda (bee balm) in a broad range of colors from blue to bright red, and a wide variety of straw flowers. The latter I often pre-boil to hydrate them. This helps them blend with the pulp and reduces the chance for bleeding.
You may wish to retain the character of the whole flower, or perhaps try a fern. This may be accomplished by pressing them in a flower press and, when dry, laying them into the couched sheets. With this method, the entire flower may be utilized, or the various dried petals may be arranged to create unique or imaginary plants.
I prefer to use abaca pulp for flower inclusions. It is easy to pulp in a blender and makes a sheet that responds well to inclusions and natural plant materials. For those of you in apartments or without gardens I suggest watching for municipal parks and botanical gardens to change their plantings. They discard many wonderful materials that can be used both for inclusions and for pulp. But pulp from plant is another topic. For now, go harvest, and enjoy your gardens in paper all winter long.
Copyright 2004 Hand Papermaking, Inc.