When my son David was in the 6th grade, his social studies class focused
on Ancient Egypt as part of their curriculum. For a school project, we decided to
make real paper from some of the papyrus growing on my patio. We started growing the
papyrus in May, and by late summer, the stalks were large enough to use for this
project. Here is the step-by-step process that we used, photographed by David:
There were several stalks that were broken in a recent wind-storm, so we
decided to cut those.
The widest part of the stalk, which makes the best paper, is closest to
the root, so we tied to cut as far down as possible.
Removing one of the papyrus stalks.
This was a particularly large stalk, with very good, dense fiber inside.
The next step was peeling off the rind, the outer green layer of the
After removing the outer layer, the stalk was sliced into thin strips.
We laid out the stips lengthwise and crosswise on a wooden board,
putting them together closely so there would not be any gaps in the paper.
We put newspaper over the sheet of papyrus to absorb moisture, and then
we tried using heavy books on top.
The books did not work very well, because they were not heavy enough to
press out enough moisture, so we decided to use C-clamps instead.
David and I each made one piece of papyrus paper in this manner.
Here's David's finished piece of paper. Nekhtet!
("Victory!" or "Yay!" in Kemetic)
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