flax paper

Herbal Paper

Paper made from herbs can make your magical spells and talismans more powerful. It is infused with the powers of the herbs, and created with intent. Fibrous herbs suitable for making herbal paper include flax, nettle, rush, cereals, sunflower, pampas grass, broom, bamboo, camomile, cow parsley, dandelion, dill, fennel, iris, and mullein.
Simply put, herb paper is made by soaking vegetable matter until the fibres separate, collecting it on a mesh, trawling away the excess pulp, and allowing it to dry. You will require a basic pulp (see below) and two frames of equal size, one covered in mesh. A pair of picture frames, the same size and some old net curtain will suffice.

Collect 2 gallons of herbs, crush, cut and tear them into small pieces, and put them into a large pan. Add 2 pints of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1—2 hours until the plant fibres feel soft. Put the pulp into a liquidiser (2 tablespoons of pulp to one pint of water), and liquidise for 15 seconds. This can then be used on its own or added to some recycled paper pulp. If it is to make writing paper a little cold water laundry starch should be mixed into the pulp; this allows the paper to receive the ink.
Have the pulp in a large bowl. Stir it gently and do not allow the pulp to settle to the bottom. Hold the two frames together with the mesh covered one on the bottom, mesh uppermost. Slide them into the pulp, edge first, and then tilt until they are completely horizontal. Keeping them flat, lift them from the pulp. A layer of pulp should be retained on the mesh. Tilt very slightly so that some of the excess water can drain away, and then lay it on newspaper. Remove the empty top frame. At this stage petals can be pressed into the wet surface.
When partially, dry use a palette knife to loosen the paper from the frame. Tip the sheet onto absorbent cloth. Further sheets of paper can be made in the same way and piled up between cloths. When you have finished, weight down the pile of herbal paper to squeeze out any remaining excess water. When completely dry separate carefully.

written by Anna Franklin


Happy FMA Day!

I’ve had in mind a few ideas for themed, handmade books for a while now, and while thinking about what I could draw for FMA Day, I thought - why not make a book?

It’s been quite a while since I bound, but I missed it. :3 The cover sheets, both blue and yellow, were handmade and hand-dyed by me. Blue is flax paper, yellow is either bamboo or cotton… they looked nearly identical once I made them so I have a hard time telling which is which o.o

I cheated for these photos because I need a binding break and I wanted to be sure to post it in time, so the sheets aren’t currently sewn in. There will be 64 pages of creme Canson Edition drawing paper inside. It works really well for dry media, and I’ve used ink with no issue and watercolors with just a little extra drying time!

(Message me if you’re interested - I can also make custom books :3)

Needle-weaving the spine of a longstitch journal. The weekend has been quiet so far and mostly consisted of drawing, tea-drinking, medium format photography and the winter sun. At home my bookbinding ergonomy is often along the lines of crouching in front of the window and holding things between my knees. I’ve yet to learn to be this comfortable (“ ”) in public.


Beasts, 2013
5’ x3’ handmade flax paper with ink and acrylic
Installed with flame-less candles, scavenged deer bones, sage, and salt

“Oh This is the Creature that does not exist
They did not know that and, in any case, 
its motion, its neck, even to the light of its still gaze,
they loved it” –Rainer Maria Rilke


This is a book I bound for myself; Witchcraft and the Black Art by J.W. Wickwar, second printing from 1927. Half bound in fine chocolate brown Harmatan goatskin, with handsewn French headbands and black endpapers. Covered with flax paper. You might remember that dirty, foxed edge from a previous post. I wanted the look and feel of the new binding to be sympathetic to that edge I liked so much.

What I wanted from this one was a simple, straightforward project to ease my mind whenever I wasn’t working on anything else. Now this piece is in a lovely, readable condition. It used to be a cloth binding coming loose from its covers. So, success. I would have preferred smaller type for the lowercase titling but there wasn’t any, so I’m satisfied with what I got. I took these pictures before adding a few tooled lines but you get the idea!