Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In which we travel to Wisconsin and make paper April 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 3:20 PM
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WHO WOULD HAVE thought that making paper could be so much fun for a bunch of grown-ups?

Not me.

But making paper at The Paper Discovery Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, on Saturday proved so much fun for our family that I declared, “I could really get into this paper making.”

At that moment my 18-year-old son, Mr. Logical Scientist-Math Guy, clarified: “Technically we did not make paper.”

He would be right. We did not transform a tree into paper. Rather, we recycled the Sunday comics and other paper into new paper.

And here is how we did it with the assistance of two patient and friendly young missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who volunteer at the discovery center.

First, peruse the paper samples to determine what type of paper you would like to make. Ideally, you (your daughter) should drink your (her) coffee before coming to The Paper Discovery Center. But, if you (your daughter) are (is) fortunate enough, the nice lady at the front desk will allow you (your daughter) inside with your (her) coffee as long as you (she) promise (s) to keep a lid on it (the coffee cup, that is).

After you have torn your selected papers into postage stamp size pieces, drop the paper into the blender and add water, about three-fourths of the blue cup shown here.

Here you can add condiments (that's what I call them) like glitter and pressed flowers to the mix before blending in an ancient blender. A garage sale blender would work great for this part of the paper making. On the left is one of the patient paper making volunteer instructors. That's my husband waiting his turn.

Next, pour the blended paper pulp into a screen inside a wooden form and immerse in water. Here's where you get to dip your fingers into the pulpy water and swish everything together.

Evenly ease the forms from the water to reveal your paper. Remove the forms and sponge excess moisture off.

Move to the next table and lay an absorbent sheet of paper (can't recall the name, but it starts with a "c") on top of your paper. Put a board on top and press. The idea is too absorb even more water. Repeat several times.

Pull back the absorbent paper to reveal the recycled paper you've made. But you're not done yet. Next, move to a contraption that exerts 2,000 pounds of pressure onto the paper, binding the fibers. After that, move to a machine that applies heat to the paper. Keep your fingers out of both.

Finally, pose for a photo with the paper you've just created.

HAVE YOU EVER MADE paper like this? I’d like to hear, especially if you’ve made your own forms, etc. This may just be an art I’d like to try at home.

PLEASE CHECK BACK for another post from The Paper Discovery Center in Appleton, Wisconsin.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


My Easter in a single snapshot

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:32 AM
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HOLIDAYS ARE MEANT to be celebrated with family. I know that’s not always possible as distance separates many of us from loved ones.

But this Easter my husband and I spent the weekend with our three grown children at our second daughter’s Appleton, Wisconsin, apartment, a five-plus hour drive from our southeastern Minnesota home.

It was, as the four of us traveling there in our family van would conclude, “a long, weary journey,” made longer by the beginning of road construction season.

But it was worth the detour, the traffic, the $3.939/gallon gas in Appleton, the fierce wind, the dust storm in potato land near Coloma, the tumbleweeds and small branches flying across the interstate at Tomah…. so worth the drive for all five of us to be together.

We laughed and teased. Dined and worshiped together. We built family memories.

I could write hundreds of words to sum up the weekend. But the image below, although technically of low quality, best tells it all. This single, blurred shot captures what only minutes earlier I had attempted to get in posed pictures. The three are viewing those posed frames on my oldest daughter’s camera. Just look at the trio with my husband in the background. You can almost feel the love, can’t you?

I had no time to adjust my camera or frame this image. I saw the moment and snapped the shutter button. Perfect.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling