By Megan Singleton
The relationships that exist within the natural world inspire me. A large part of my studio practice is exploring the materiality and transformative properties of plants, specifically I investigate invasive plants and their impact within the ecosystems they are invading. The first day I arrived on Cape Cod I encountered Codium fragile,
commonly known as "Deadman's Fingers" or "Green Fleece". It is native to Pacific waters and was accidentally introduced to the Atlantic Coast in 1957, most likely from international shipping traffic. Part of the success of this plant's population boom is due to the fact the dominant herbivore in these waters, the Green Sea Urchin, does not prefer to eat it. MIT Marine Bioinvasion Fact Sheet
As you can see below this plant dominates shorelines here in Chatham, washing up in heavy ropey masses. It's negative impacts on the ecosystem include choking out important native species such as eel grass, thus displacing marine fauna such as oysters and clams that inhabit the eel grass beds.
The papermaking process for me begins with exploring sites that are being affected by invasive species and collecting plants. The images above are from Cockle Cove in Chatham, MA. The following images and heading will outline the process I used to create paper from these plants.
|Collecting Fiber on a Rainy Day at Cockle Cove|
|Collected Fiber is piled up and then sorted to remove the Atlantic Slipper Shells and their inhabitants |
|Detail of Codium Fragile connected to Atlantic Slipper Shell|
|The fiber is then cut into about one inch pieces and cooked with Soda Ash.|
The Soda Ash is a caustic, which when cooked with plant materials separates the cellulose and non cellulose matter from the plant. This batch was simmered and cooked for 3 hours.
|The fiber is then rinsed with fresh water. |
Rinsing removes the soda ash residue and non cellulose matter from the plant.
Next this fiber was put into a blender to make a pulp slurry.
|The pulp slurry is poured into a vat. Next sheets are pulled|
using a mould and deckle I brought from my studio.
The sheets are couched onto interfacing as you can see in the bottom left.
|Detail of a freshly formed sheet on the mould.|
These are very interesting pieces - very cool forms!ReplyDelete