Desert Fiber Papermaking Supplies

Plants in stock:

Prickly Pear, Saguaro
Agave, Joshua Tree
Tumbleweed, Yucca
Palm Leaf, Corn, Sunflower

Saguaro is the largest cactus in the US. It is the plant most identified with the Sonoran Desert. Its blossom is the state flower of Arizona. It has a green columnar tree-like trunk and can grow up to 50 feet high. The fibers of the Saguaro are a silky golden color. They are taken from the center woody skeleton of the cactus. To process it into paper takes the most time of the desert plants. It first has to be cut into small chunks, then soaked, then pounded again. It can then be pounded or put through a chipper/shredder. Since this is a short fiber, linter will help, but I have made beautiful paper without it. Cooked Saguaro fiber $200.00 per LB, uncooked $100.00.

Why is the plant so closely identified with the West not even American? The tumbleweed was accidentally brought to South Dakota in the 1870ís in a shipment of flaxseed. When the plant dried it broke off at ground level allowing winds to roll it, scattering thousands of seed as it moved along. The rest is history. The stems form a large prickly bushy ball. The leaves are grayish green on young plants, replaced with bractlike spiny leaves when dried. Tumbleweeds are easily found and easily processed into paper fiber. Dry tumbleweed makes a tan/brown paper. Green tumbleweed (only available in the spring) makes a pale green paper. Cooked fiber $35.00 per LB, uncooked $15.00 per.

Used mainly for medicinal purposes, Aloe also can be used to create interesting papers. It takes many months for aloe to dry, but then when rehydrated it comes to life again. The papers made from aloe are pinkish brown in color. (Not always available) Cooked fiber $30.00 per LB, uncooked $20.00 per lb.

Prickly Pear is a wide spreading cactus up to 15í in diameter. The plants are green to bluish green with circular or oblong pads up to 16 inches long and 9 inches wide in upright or sprawling chains.

When dried and the skin is removed, the inside fiber is like a golden lace. It can be ground up for papermaking or used whole for sculptures. Prickly Pear is easily processed for papermaking. Prickly Pear paper is golden in color, but not as deep a gold as that of Saguaro. Cooked fiber $35.00 per lb. Uncooked $15.00 per lb.

Fresh Prickly Pear pads can be used in place of a formation aid. Once cooked they become slimy enough for Japanese style papermaking. $5.00 per lb.

Even though the leaves of the palm tree are green, the processed fibers become reddish brown. Paper can be made without the use of linter. Cooked fiber $20.00 per LB, uncooked $10.00 per lb.

The fibers from the palm tree bark are long and tough. They require extra processing time and beating. They create a dark reddish paper. Paper can be made without the use of linter. Cooked fiber $20.00 per LB, uncooked, $10.00 per lb.

There are many types of Yucca in the desert. We mainly use Soaptree Yucca in papermaking as it has the longest fibers. Its leaves are yellowish green, long and narrow with threadlike margins and sharp spines at the end. It grows so that the arrangement of leaves channels moisture to the plantís center.

It doesnít take much to process yucca leaves, a quick cook in soda ash, rinse, then beat. It can make paper with or without linter. Yucca makes a creamy colored paper. Cooked fiber $35.00 per lb., uncooked $15.00 per lb.

This is the largest of the Yucca family. It is an evergreen with dark green, long, narrow leaves with pointed tips and toothed margins that grow to 14 inches long, clustered in dense rosettes at the ends of branches. Its trunk is brown or gray, corky, rough and deeply furrowed. Joshua Tree processes the same as Yucca. It makes a white paper with little threads of black, brown or tan running through it. Not only can the leaves be used for paper, but also the trunk makes a beautiful white paper. Cooked fiber $35.00 per lb., uncooked $15.00 per lb.

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This is handmade saguaro paper.