Friday, August 07, 2009

Linen Festival Countdown -- Linen Tow Paper

Tomorrow is the 2nd Annual Linen Festival at Joybilee Farm. The Port-a-Potty arrives today in anticipation of many people converging on Joybilee Farm on Saturday at 10am. We cleaned house and cleaned the yard over the last three days. Still more to do but we are essentially ready.

The Weekender, The Grand Forks Gazette, and The Boundary Creek Times Mountaineer all published stories about the Linen Festival in their papers last week and this. Robin had people come to him at the Farmer's Market and say, "See you Saturday. I wouldn't miss it." CBC radio 2 played our public service announcement 2 weeks ago. And we' ve been advertising on the web for weeks.

The man that prays for rain and then prepares his fields is the man with faith that God will answer his prayer. So we have prepared the fields, so to speak.


Linen paper is easy to make from the linen tow that is the waste after combing out the line linen for spinning. The technique is very similiar to felting or making silk fusion/silk paper. So if you've made felt or silk paper before -- linen paper is easier -- no agitation and no textile medium needed.

You need:
Clean linen tow -- remove all the shive and chaff that you can because the hard stems will prevent the paper from binding together. The more clean tow that you can incorporate, the finer and more stable your paper will be. For an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper you need a lot of linen tow -- 200 grams. Once you have the technique mastered you can add other fibers, too, like silk threads, petals, seeds, shredded paper, etc. Add these other fibers sparingly so that the integrity of the paper is not compromised.

A fiberglass window screen cut to size. It should be 2 inches taller than your want your paper to be and twice as wide plus 2 inches. You will fold the screen over the linen tow to enable you to wet it out.

A sponge to dampen the paper and to blot up excess water.

Water in a spray bottle.

An iron, pressing cloth and ironing board or protected surface.

A wooden or marble rolling pin.

Begin by opening the window screen and lay out one layer of flax tow, being careful to cover the screen by laying the tow in one direction, very similiar to laying out wool fibers in preparation for felting. Leave a one inch area free all around the window screen. This will allow your paper to spread once it is wetted out.

Add a second layer of flax tow perpendicular to the first layer. Cover the first layer completely.

Add a third layer of flax tow perpendicular to the second layer and in the same direction as the first layer.

Fold over the window screen to cover the flax tow completely.

Using a spray bottle, wet out the flax paper, through the screen using plain water. Make sure the paper is thoroughly wet. Turn the screen over and dampen the other side as well.

Work the water through all layers with your hands. Roll the screen containing the linen paper with your rolling pin to press the fibers in place. Use your sponge to wipe up excess water. Turn over and repeat on the opposite side. Lift the linen paper from the screen to make sure that it doesn't stick to the screen then replace it.

Once you are satisfied that your linen paper is thoroughly wet, leave to drip and dry in the sun for a few hours until it is just damp.

Leaving it on one side of the screen but opening the folded screen for ironing, press the linen paper with a hot iron, set on linen. Use a pressing cloth. The cloth will change colour due to the pectin still in the flax tow. Press thoroughly on one side, flip the paper over and press the other side.

Allow the paper to thoroughly dry.

Beautiful linen paper ready for your application -- This high quality homemade paper would make beautiful cards, boxes, or the inset for a screen. Add flax seeds, flax flower petals, daisy petals for texture and colour.


  1. Best wishes for your special day. :)



  2. I'm enjoying your posts on linen/flax and the beautiful photos. Wish I lived closer and could have visited your linen festival. Looking forward to hearing how things go and more photos. Hoping you have a wonderful day, weather is good, and many, many people come for the day.

  3. Thank you for the linen paper instructions. Sounds like a great thing to try!