Today I introduce you to Christina Bianco-Jessen and her beautiful shop Paper Dandelions. Christina takes other people’s ‘weeds’ and create treasures out of it…resulting in beautiful handmade paper products. In Christina’s words:
“In addition to etsy sales and direct business, my crafts are available through several local stores in Northwest Indiana. It is very gratifying to contribute to the local community, as that is where the waste is collected and transformed. I have several pre-set packages available, but enjoy working with individuals on a personal level to create cards or invite sets just for them.
I am always on the lookout for new materials and projects. My hope is to continue harvesting waste material and creating sustainable product while teaching others the utility of using what is around in new ways. Through small, thoughtful steps, we can all move toward a more benevolent condition.”
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Christina: My name is Christina. I am a mother, homemaker and small-business owner. My husband and I are raising our sweet, beautiful and lively 8-year old son in a small house near the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan in Indiana. My passion is to support more sustainable habits for our family and community that enhance, rather than plunder, our splendid planet. Out of my house, I create and sell handmade, recycled paper creations for weddings, baby showers, invites, holidays, note cards and more. I love to spend my days in nature, crocheting, cooking, loving, digging in the dirt, reading, baking, learning, collecting crinoids and beachglass, playing and dancing by the light of the moon. I believe and do my best to live by the words, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
How did your love for paper making begin?
Christina: Technically in 5th grade:) I then rediscovered it years later and began playing with different fibers while searching for ways to turn the massive amounts of waste we create into treasure. In 2004, my son’s birth really awakened some part of me that was trying to make sense of how our world became so unbalanced with materialism, oil addiction, etc. I decided to make small changes here and there that added up and eventually became a new way of life as i felt this deep sense of transformation upon us as a whole. Paper Dandelions began from wanting to symbolically and literally turn the massive amounts of waste we create into something that can be used again. Its my little piece of the puzzle. This is something i wanted to experience tangibly and making paper from trash is on a smaller scale how I’ve reminded myself just how much influence each of us has on this planet.
What does the process of recycling old paper into new look like?
Christina: I gather unwanted materials such as junk mail, shreddings, newspapers, old grocery bags, and the like from local business and schools. I am deeply grateful to the people in my community who save these items for me. I also incorporate natural refuse such as tea grounds, fruit peels, seeds and wildflowers. Once i gather the paper, i sort into groups by color and shred and blend into a pulp with water. I then add the seeds after i blend the pulp. This slurry is then sifted against a screen until it forms and even layer. Depending on the project, decorations such as petals or leaves are added before pressing. I then sponge it until its not dripping wet and transfer to a drying rack that my husband built me which is made from an old roll of screen and scrap wood and once it air dries a sheet of paper will have formed. Then i take small batches and press between weights of books, magazines and so forth.
How did you come up with the idea of adding seeds to your paper products?
Christina: The original intention for my cards was that the majority of it can be reused. The cards have removable inserts, so they can be passed on. I was looking for another way for people to continue to enjoy the cards after their initial purpose. I had been intrigued by the concept of seeds in paper after seeing it done by others and when a food company decided to put basil and other herb seeds into their outer cardboard boxes to be planted, i thought seeds would be a neat addition to my already recycled paper line. I use a wildflower seed mixture that contains annuals, perennials and native wildflowers such as purple coneflower, black-eyes susan, bachelor buttons, purple prarie clover, mexican hat, rocky mountain beeplant, sulphur fower, butterfly plant, indian blanket, goldenrod, perstemon, aster, liatris, cosmos, daisy, bee balm, blue flax, larkspur, lupine, sunflower, coreopsis and more. I use Beauty Beyond Belief seeds out of Boulder, Colorado that are of the highest quality available. For more information and detailed planting instructions you can visit bbbseed.com. The plantable line has been very popular, as people like to send out an invite or card that has a utilitarian purpose. Next spring, i would like to include herb and some vegetable seeds in my spring line which i am excited about as it will be nutritious and nuturing to receive.
Do you have a favorite type of refuse to recycle into new paper?
Christina: Ha, i love it all, the entire process. I love watching this refuse be shredded and reborn. I would say two of my most unique papers to make for my beach dune scene cards are fun. For example, I have a lot of fun with my dunes-themed cards that require different textures and shades of tan. I grind banana peels with plain old junk mail and get this really neat, dense fibered paper that is surprisingly hardy (I have 5 year old banana paper in great condition), the other paper is made from old coffee or tea grinds mixed with newspaper and it makes a roughly textured, pleasing to the eye, aromatic sand dune. One of the most beautiful and lightweight papers that i enjoy making are from old gift bag tissues.
They come in such a variety of colors and are usually thrown away after parties, so I love collecting that type and reinventing it into vibrant 2-D planet earths as well as other designs and colors.
Today Christina is giving away a set of 10 recycled & plantable holiday cards from Paper Dandelions with envelopes (pictured above). These beautiful 3 1/2″ x 5″ Christmas cards are recycled and seeded with wildflower seeds. A unique way to send your snail mail holiday greetings this year that are eco-friendly as well as a gift in a card since the recipient gets to plant their card! People love having a purpose for their old Christmas cards Planting instructions included in each card. Plant paper in 1/4 inch or less of soil, add sunshine, water and love Do not mail this out of the US as it contains seeds.
To enter this giveaway simply leave a comment below! COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED
For a second entry, hop on over and “like” the Paper Dandelion facebook page.
For a third entry, “favorite” the Paper Dandelions etsy shop.
This giveaway will close at 8am est on Friday morning. The winner will be announced within this post shortly thereafter.
Thanks so much to Christina for sharing her eco friendly creativity with us and spreading some holiday cheer!
And the winner is Megan, “Wow this is a wonderful idea!! Thanks for the chance to win”