Learn to work with Botanical Paper!

Papermaking with Zela    Gympie Regional Gallery   Sunday February 25

The workshop will begin with an introduction to papermaking using botanical fibres sourced from the local area, mostly Zela’s backyard. Zela uses spent plants, weeds, prunings and trimmings which are cooked and beaten to extract the cellulose fibres. She brews inks from a variety of berries and barks to obtain natural colouring agents. The use of other plants including okra and aloe vera as formation aids will also be demonstrated.

Once participants have made some sheets and gained confidence with the techniques of dipping and couching, several advanced techniques will be introduced.

10:00 am  – 3:00 pm       Rough timetable (Subject to change on the day!)

10 am Introduction

Participants briefly introduce themselves and their own arts practice or area of interest. Zela will speak and show some finished examples then demonstrate the basic technique of couching using a mould and deckle. Couching is the essential process of transferring the paper pulp from the mould to a cloth or board. Distribute cloths and boards. Name cloths with permanent markers.

11 am

Couching some sheets with each of the three different pulps available. These will be banana trunk, arrowroot stalk and a dark blend of combined fibres for contrast.

11.30  Techniques 1 and 2 (laminating and rock texture). Demonstration and experimentation.

12 noon Multiple-couching and forming techniques 3 and 4: Tear-through, spray-tear. Press some sheets and allow to dry id weather permits.

12.30 Lunch break. Goldfields Plaza is a short walk away for lunches if needed. Zela will be around with some samples and for chats.

1.00 Discussion: bespoke papers for your projects. Achieving desired texture, opacity, flexibility and thickness in natural ways.

1.30 Exploring some options on how to produce colours.  

(a) plants themselves – usually subtle or “earthy’ colours.

(b) soils and ochres

(c) Inks from nature – using Inks on wet and dry papers

(d) reliable natural colours: turmeric, onion skins and more


Pressing more papers, experiments with the new techniques. Achieving fuzzy edges.

2.30pm – What do you use these for? The eternal question.

Distributing posts, fill in survey. Exchange contacts and future plans.

3pm. Close

Did you like this? Share it!


Susan Zela Bissett (Zela) is an educator, writer and artist with a lifetime involvement in environmental education and advocacy. Zela was born on Butchulla Country in Maryborough and has worked as an artist, educator, permaculture gardener, studio potter and consultant. She is passionate about sustainable lifestyles, maintaining habitat for wildlife and about unleashing the creativity in all of us.

0 comments on “Learn to work with Botanical Paper!

Leave Comment