Why microporous paper pulp vessels?

paper pulp vessels

Written by Karen Whiterod

7 April 2021

Paper pulp vessels came later, my first vessels were made using the papier mache technique and torn newspaper with balloons as molds in October 2017. Using newspaper as a material was new to me. Making paper pulp followed, then the experiments with shapes and improving my technique for making plaster molds from the clay forms. There are many versions of these vessels as the ideas developed and my skills improved. Now the almost smooth paper pulp vessels are very different from the earlier rough surfaced versions. The functionality of the vessels has been tested over time as they have been suspended with my plants, this means that when I observed an undesirable flaw, I could adjust the paper pulp recipe and try again. This gives me confidence in the resilience of my paper pulp vessels, they will survive holding succulent plants and the watering which is required.

Paper pulp vessels are light-weight, which is exactly what is needed to suspend several vessels. Well if you don’t want to get into reinforcements for wall or ceiling! When the effect of floating and ease of movement is required for a mobile form, vessels which are light are the solution.

Anyone with houseplants, knows that it is essential to have holes in the base of a vessel for excess water to pass through, this ensures that the roots of a plant will not become waterlogged. These paper pulp vessels are microporous, excess water will transpire through the walls and at a slow rate, so it is gradual and will go unnoticed – no dripping! The vessels are finished with two coats of wax-oil on the inside and the outside. This retains the microporous properties and preserves the matt paper pulp surface.

The vessels have always had rounded bases, as they are not intended to rest on a surface no flat base is required. The shapes developed and the forms have extended downwards. I like this as it suggests a weightiness, as if they are being pulled downwards with gravity, while they float. There are seven different vessels with a familial likeness. Two have wider rims which rest in the disc frames, while the other five will sit in the band frames.

I have wondered if the paper pulp vessels have been the most important element to enable the Balanced-Earth mobiles to be suspended and to move. However each component: the stainless steel kinetic forms, the upcycled and repurposed materials into vessel frames, the oak wall-mounts (and other ways to suspend) have all been essential. Whenever I’ve been able to resolve an aspect of the design, it has felt like a breakthrough.

“Microporous” wasn’t a term I was familiar with until I made these paper pulp vessels.

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