Garlic Mustard Paper with Megan Heeres

During the Picnic Club Detroit visit to Rouge Park, I did a quick lesson on Garlic Mustard which is an invasive plant here in Michigan. It came to our region by way of Europe as a culinary herb that tastes very much like it sounds. Spicy and garlicky. It is edible, but it has never really caught on as a crop. Instead it finds its way in to parks and green spaces and goes crazy. I have been experimenting with different invasive plants to determine which ones would make viable fibers for paper making. Generally, once removed from a site, these plants get thrown away or incinerated. As an artist I am interested in reframing these invasive by-products. Is there a way in which we can safely use them to make viable products, projects and learning opportunities? And what is our relationship, as artists, to the materials that we use to create works? How can we stretch and challenge what and how we use materials?

Garlic Mustard

Along with the help of some fabulous and diligent Detroit Picnic-ers we were able to remove over 8 pounds of the plant. I am happy to report that after going back to the site where we removed the plants, they have remained at bay.

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In order to begin the papermaking process, I throughly cleaned and rinsed the plants to remove dirt, sticks, and anything that might damage the Hollander Beater (an essential papermaking tool).

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I then cooked the plant fibers until the cellulose began to break down over the fire.

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The cooked fibers get transferred to the Hollander Beater where they get macerated and the cellulose breaks apart completely – allowing for the papermaking process to form new cellulose connections.

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* The Hollander Beater pictured here is not my own. And the fiber is NOT garlic mustard. My pictures did not turn out but I wanted to make sure folks got the idea.

Once pulp has formed, it is transferred into a bin and sheet forming begins.

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Once sheets are formed, they are stacked and then pressed to remove excess water and compress the fibers together. The sheets are transferred to blotters and into a “dry box” which forces air through them in order to dry faster.

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    Below are the finished sheets! The first set was finished in the dry box, giving them a smoother finish.

The second set was air-dried and they are much more wrinkled and varied.

 

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Thanks to all who came out to learn, to forage, to explore and to help remove Garlic Mustard.

For those interested in hearing more about the project contact Megan Heeres via her website: http://meganheeres.com/contact.html

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Synopsis: The Shape of the Flora

On Sunday May fourth the picnic club met up with artist Meg Heeres in Rouge Park. Meg guided us on a walk, in search of garlic mustard, an invasive plant that she plans to transform into paper. Along with collecting garlic mustard for paper production we also created photograms, ate snacks, looked closely at plants and trees and found beautiful objects.

Meg on her Invasive Paper Project

“The Invasive Paper Project seeks to use invasive plants and noxious weeds as a paper making material. Oftentimes, these plants, once they are removed from an area are either thrown in a landfill or burned. I would like to shift this practice and determine if some of these discards could be put to good use as handmade paper. Our parks and greens spaces in Detroit struggle with species like Honeysuckle, Phragmites, Garlic Mustard, and Tree-of-Heaven and many groups works hard to help manage their growth and spread. I am working with these folks to gather the raw material and experiment with the effectiveness as a paper fiber. ” ~Meg Heeres

Meg is currently working with Swagon to test out her invasive paper mobile, Check it out: Invasive_Paper_1_Pager (2)

The Shadows of the Plants

The evening before the picnic, sheets of paper were coated with liquid emulsion in a dimly lit basement (We used a cyanotype  kit purchased from a company called the Photographer’s Formulary). Some of the paper we used was paper that Meg Heeres made from honey suckle (another invasive plant) and Abacá fiber. Throughout the picnic we looked closely at the shapes of plants and branches, collecting the ones we liked to create images with their shadows. The process was incredibly fun. The uncontrolled aspect of this process yields some beautiful unexpected affects.

The Act of Making as a Way of Exploring

This picnic was different then that last (Birdwatching within the Barricades) because it engaged all of us in the act of making. I have found that my location in the world and the creative impulses I experience are inextricably linked. The act of making creates a new intimacy with the place I inhabit. Making helps us to see new aspects of our world as active participants in the shape of things rather than a passive set of eyeballs rolling around a varied topography.

 

 

Continued explorations in the shadows of objects

After the picnic Megan Major (a Detroit based photographer and fellow picniker) said that she would be exploring photogram printing more.  I can’t wait to see what she makes! Check out some of her beautiful and ethereal work here.

Thanks so much to Meg Heeres for sharing her world with us! Also Huge thanks to Michael Collino, Lauren Rossi Harroun, Shana Merola, Emily Gustafson, Augusta Rose and all the lovely picnikers who bring curiosity and creativity to each picnic!

 

 

 

The Shape of the Flora

shapofthefloraflatPicnic #2 The Shape of the Flora: May 4th 12-3PM in Rouge Park


This picnic will be devoted to looking closely at the plants of Rouge Park. We will be joined by local artist Meg Heeres whose Invasive Paper Project seeks to use invasive plants and noxious weeds as a paper-making material. Oftentimes, these plants, once they are removed from an area are either thrown in a landfill or burned. Meg would like to shift this practice and determine if some of these discards could be put to good use as handmade paper. Our parks and greens spaces in Detroit struggle with species like Honeysuckle, Phragmites, Garlic Mustard, and Tree-of-Heaven. Many groups of people work hard to help manage their growth and spread. Meg is working with these folks to gather the raw material and experiment with the effectiveness as a paper fiber. We’ll hear more about her work and help her gather invasive plants. http://meganheeres.com/home.html

We will also be providing a limited amount of cyanotype paper to make photograms with some of the treasures we find. If you wish to make one, please consider bringing a small donation.

WHERE WE WILL MEET
The exact location of the picnic is by the intersection of West Outer Drive and Tireman Avenue. If you don’t see us from the road, look for clues, practice your tracking skills, and you will find us in the woods.


What to bring:
– Eyes and ears
– Snack or personal picnic (feel free to bring something to share!)
– Don’t forget water or a beverage to keep you hydrated
-Dress appropriately for gathering plants, long pants and closed toe shoes recommended
– Ideas for future picnics
– A plate, a fork and a cup

Other things you may want to bring:
– Plant guides / Wildlife books
– Sunglasses
– Galoshes, or puddle proof shoes
– Picnic blanket / tarp
– Any other devices for looking or listening (magnifying glass? Spyglass?)
– A writing utensil and journal / Sketchbook / Camera

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