Paper made from bog ingredients


A heritage centre in Co Offaly aims to form a community enterprise to sell items, including the high-quality paper and parchment it makes, using wildflowers and natural ingredients from the bog.

Ferbane's centre for heritage and arts hopes to form in a few months a community co-operative, or to apply to FÁS for social economy funding, to run the centre, its co-ordinator Mr Brendan Ryan, says.

Ms Katie Fuchs, who lives in the area, is instructing 10 FÁS trainees in the craft of making hand-made paper, using plants and material from around the Ferbane area. She also makes the paper in her home.

Focus on Ferbane is an umbrella organisation of different groups which have combined to foster enterprise in the area, which has lost hundreds of jobs due to the rationalisation of ESB and Bord na Móna.

The centre has also collected local folklore, which it is compiling and will ultimately sell as a CD. A catalogue of photographs from the region's history is also being collated.

Mr Ryan and Ms Fuchs say a number of applications have been found for the textured paper, including wedding invitations, St Patrick's Day cards and award certificates. The paper is used for calligraphy, which is also taught at the centre, and as a material on which to paint.

Decorative pictures have also been made using a combination of different parchment types, often with flowers embedded in the material, according to Ms Fuchs. These types of picture created at the centre, Mr Ryan says, are also framed in bog oak and are for sale.

The colour of the paper varies, depending on the substances used to make it, Ms Fuchs added. Other materials used include organic material such as banana skins, rhubarb and tea bags.