Monday, August 11, 2008

Horse Poo Paper

While weaving the cottons, I was thinking of how to improve the weaving environment when working with skinny yarns. With merino and merino mixes, I use this one sheet of rather robust bubble wrap, (which has plastic covering the bubbles on both sides,) to wind around the cloth beam. With cashmeres and cottons I never found the perfect medium, and up to now I've been using these relatively sturdy pages from an old calendar; these sheets were great for a few years, but after a dozen or so warps, they have become marked and wrinkled, even though I've steam-pressed them several times.

I asked Mama what she uses, and nonchalantly she lilted, "horse poo papers!" I thought she was joking, but apparently silk weavers in Japan can ring up a supplier and let them know the loom's weaving width or the width of your cloth, and they cut it to width and send you about a dozen sheets. Mama hasn't got a potty mouth like I do, but she had some of these sheets, and promptly sent me some.

They are nondescript, smooth, brown cardboard, the kind you find at the back of an inexpensive notepad. Folk etymology being one of my hobbies, as I wound my first sheet gingerly under my cotton scarf, I contemplated the possibility of these sheets being made of, you know, watered-down horse droppings. I imagined Japanese farmers feeding only certain kinds of hay to their horses under contract with the Horse Poo Paper merchants, who are in tern under contract with the silk weavers' guild or similar. Around 700AD, in the days of The Tale of Gengi days; pre-1868 tops.

Well, it turns out they never use real horse droppings, but the mixture resembles horse droppings at one stage, apparently. Older people reckon "younger" (post-1955-ish) people never heard the cardboard called by this name. There are, however, real elephant poo papers, which has a nice texture and Japanese zoos sometimes commission them to sell as souvenirs and fund raisers.

As for what it's supposed to do, it'll work for a while, but this is not the long-term solution for me.

I wouldn't lie to you about something as important as this.

2 comments:

  1. I've been away for 5 days so found lots of interesting things to read here. Not the least, the horse poo papers. I suppose now that elephant poo paper is quite commonly made in zoos (I have some - pretty rough looking but interesting) we can expect to find other types for sale and no doubt horse poo is a possibility.

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  2. Have you elephant paper? Are you using them in your books? I love the idea of having elephant paper and hippo paper and rhino paper in a journal, Carol.

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