Hi! I am coming to you from Port Elizabeth this time! I want to tell you all about Scarab Paper, that is paper made from elephant poo! Trust me on this one.
The best thing about scarab paper is that it is 100% recycled and recyclable. As a crafter I always try to think about the impact my crafting has on the environment. Crafters will use a lot of paper and often plastic too in the form of glitter and acetate among other things.
The first thing to tell you about elephant poo paper is that it is beautiful. The second thing to tell you is that it does not smell! If you have ever seen handmade papers before you will know how beautiful they can be. Often petals and flowers are added to the paper to give it a unique texture and look. This is the same effect achieved in the making of Scarab Paper. Elephant dung contains chopped (read chewed up) leaves and grasses, these are cleaned and added to the paper to give texture and pattern.
So how is the paper made?
Elephant dung is collected from a local elephant sanctuary and boiled with caustic soda. This cleans the fibres and removes any smell. At the same time scrap paper, old computer printouts etc. are shredded, pulped and added to water. (Scarab only use recycled materials) The cleaned dung fibres are added to the pulp. The pulp and fibres are scooped up into a mold and decal, water is allowed to run off back into the pulp container. The paper is moved from the mold and decal onto a sheet of flexible plastic and pressed with felt. This not only removes more water from the paper but also give a smooth texture on one side (from the plastic) and a rough texture on the other (from the felt). The plastic, paper, felt sandwiches are layered in stacks and put into a 50 tonne press to squeeze out even more water. Then the finished sheets are left to dry in the African Sun. This takes around three hours.
Sheets of paper are sold in a variety of sized and colours (depending on the colour of the original scrap paper). They also sell prints of wildlife, gift tags, cards and bags, all made with this paper. Scarab paper is the creation of a local artist who experimented with adding different plants and fibres to handmade paper to see the different affects in her work.
The scarab paper workshop is located in Sedgefield near Kneysna, South Africa. You can see where the paper is made for free and visit the shop. The workshop itself is located in Scarab Art and Craft Village, there are lots of little outlets and even a craft brewery! If South Africa is a little to far for you to travel you can visit the website here!