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Re: Kapok

I have made kapok paper several times. I boiled it in lye and since kapok is 60
0 times more bouyant than cotton, it took a while. It wants to float. The lumen
 of the kapok fiber is full of air and you have to keep pushing the mass of fib
er under the surface as the pot boils until, eventually, it absorbs the water a
nd sinks. After that, boil for two hours as per usual, rinse very well, and you
 can beat. I found that the kapok fiber has a tendency to create wads in the be
ater and jam, similar to the way raw cotton fiber will. It helps if you cut the
 kapok into shorter lengths. It also helps, as it does for beating many plant f
ibers, if you start the beating with an ounce or two of cotton linter, to provi
de a body of fluffy fiber in the water that will carry the added plant fiber ar
ound and under the beater roll without stacking up or creating masses. Once som
e of the fiber has begun to break down, the rest gets carried through OK.
   The kapok paper I've made and that my students have made has been pleasingly
 warm and natural off-white in color. It has a lightweight, curious surface and
feel to it after drying. I hope you like it.

   John Risseeuw
   School of Art
   Arizona State University
   Tempe, AZ 85287-1505

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