Recently I had to give a lecture on hand papermaking, and what sustainable fibers contemporary papermakers are using today, like invasive seaweed on the Atlantic coast, leftovers from sugarcane production, even elephant dung. That’s right.
During my research and preparation, MAG had his own little papermaking mill, producing strips of summer squash paper-underwater. How it unintentionally started? He keeps the plecos, ramshorns, and crays on a healthy diet of boiled zucchini, cucumber, and summer squash, which they eat ravenously. Over the course of time, MAG noticed strips of what looked like Scotch tape floating around the various tanks. Lo and behold, they were the remnants of the summer squash-that thin layer between the rind and the meat. When removing them from the tank and letting them dry, they were actually paper like! The plecos and company had made paper by…not quite by hand, by mouth? We kept the strips, hoping maybe in a few months we can make a full sheet with acid free DIY Japanese wheat glue. By the way, I shared the strips with those attending the lecture; it was a little hit, and hopefully inspired some artists to turn to nature, yes, even fish tanks, for a little papermaking lesson.