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Saturday, Apr. 28, 2012 - 6:29 a.m.

Got the cactus boiled up. Made the mistake of throwing some fresh pads in with the already-broken-down ones (read: rotted), and ended up having to pick them all out because they didn't cook down at the same rate as the other (surprise, surprise). I've saved them, though, and will use them next time. The rinsing was gross. I rinsed and rinsed. There was weird black stuff in it. Finally I pounded it out with my mallet, and rinsed again, and now there are all these little insect pupal casings that have floated up. Eeew! Going to try skimming them off.

The pulp is not attractive. I don't know if I should have cooked longer, or beaten it longer, or both. Or removed the skins first. Probably all of the above. But you know, I have to remember that the properties I need it to have are not the properties actual usable paper needs to have. As long as it's dry and has bonded enough to hang together so I can cut it, I can encase it in resin and it'll be fine. And I can't judge how nice the paper will be by how the fiber looks. And I can't judge how I can make a jewelry piece look by how the sheets I pull look. Remember the squash paper? That's what started this whole thing, and it was fugly.

Anyway. I still don't have a mold and deckle, but I'm too eager to see what I've wrought to make or buy one now. I'm thinking about taking one of my screened frames and holding the round part of a tart pan (the kind with a removable bottom) over it to use as a pour mold of sorts.

See this, is what happens when you're largely unconstrained by notions of traditional craft.

The best thing about making paper is that if you screw it up, you just dump it back in the vat and have another go. I can even cook and beat it some more if I really have to.

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