… of my very own aute (paper mulberry – Broussonetia papyrifera)
At the very end of our coffee plantation, right next to the bananas and near the underground stream, Juergen has planted my three paper mulberry plants from Rarotonga. After a year and a half, I decide that they are old enough to harvest. What I really hope is that after harvesting, the plants will produce new shoots and that way I can eventually get a small plantation growing.
I had no time to look after these three plants and nip off the side branches, so the bark will not be of good quality. The plants have grown wild, the branches are all over the place, and the plants have not grown very high either. My Tongan, Samoan, Fijian and Hawaiian friends will probably laugh their heads off at this sight… I have cut all slightly thicker branches and stems. When I put them on the ground and sit down on a stool to start preparing the bark, I soon discover that I have an excellent helper (see above). I’m sure that Max shares my opinion: It’s not really worth wasting my time on this…
I cut the best parts anyway and scrape off their outer bark, just for the sake of doing it. It is important to get rid of all the brown and green and keep only the white bast, however there’s not much of it there at all. What remains is laughable. I pull it off, roll it up and freeze it anyway, maybe I can use it for some project…
There are beautiful new plants sprouting from the aute‘s root system. I promise myself that this time I will look after them better and have more and better bark for harvesting next time. For my new project, I will have to use, yet again, tapa which I have imported for the purpose.
2 thoughts on “First Harvest…”
Well, I find this process very interesting, and it looks as if Max is quite intrigued, too 😉 I look forward to following along in your experimentation…never knowing a single soul who has endeavored to grow their very own paper mulberry plant and harvest it. So you peel away the green/brown bark as shown in the above image and it is the white stalk underneath that renders the bark cloth-tapa? Do you then turn that into a pulp to make the paper? Keep us posted on your progress please.
Thanks, Dawn, Max looks forward to sharing our experiments, too. In fact, no, it is not the “white stalk underneath” the brown/green layers of bark, but the inner layer of the bark that needs to be peeled off the wooden core first and is then used for making tapa. There is a difference to paper making – which uses pulp of cut-up fibres that swim in water – in that tapa is made of the entire length of fibres which are still interconnected by the way they grown and which are beaten to spread them apart – see my post of 04/10/14 https://andrea-eimke.com/2014/10/04/tapa-and-rust-4/. I shall refer to that process again in one of my next posts…
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