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Fine Arts Student at Andhra University churns handmade paper from banana stem

By creating paper from banana stem pulp, the Department of Fine Arts in Andhra University (AU) devises new ways of artistic expression at a recent workshop.

Banana stems are wasted after harvest. An eco-friendly innovation has now created a process for banana fiber extraction and paper out this waste.Students demonstrate their work dyeing the paper making and relief print workshop in Visakhapatnam.

Although it’s an enduring process which involves boiling the stem in an alkaline solution to break down the fibre. The solution is then strained and the stem is washed in water. It is churned in a blender to prepare the pulp which is transferred on lino sheets or silk cloth frames for drying. The sheets or frames are kept under a plank for providing additional pressure.

By making paper from banana stem pulp, the Department of Fine Arts at Andhra University (AU) tried new ways of artistic expression in a recent workshop. Students specializing in printmaking were given hands-on training in making paper from banana stems, followed by a long process of boiling the fibers in a pot, flattening the pulp to make paper art.

The workshop also highlights the process of making relief paper casting and embossing techniques.

According to D Simhachalam, head of the Department of Fine Arts, “The idea is to provide a new medium for the students to explore and express themselves. We have also introduced them to the process of making natural colors and mixing these with handmade paper to produce subtle shades.”

Students bring out their creativity on handmade paper in various ways. Padmavati, a final year Bachelor of Fine Arts student, compares making graph paper to weaving cloth. She has done a range on handmade paper – from animal prints, to patterning from nature and interwoven like warp and weft, to bring out the faces of people from tribal communities.

Artist Kattakuri Ravi, one of the visiting faculty of the Department of Fine Arts, says, “The handmade paper made from banana pulp does not tear easily and is strong enough that it can be molded into various shapes.

Images by KR Deepak

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