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History lesson: from Babylonian times to hippies

Asking him when he first ran across Papercrete is a history lesson:

“Oh, about 1972 when I was reading the Mother Earth News,” he says. “Back then us hippie types we’re experimenting with all kinds of alternative building materials to bolster our alternative lifestyle. What we found was that there is nothing new under the sun. We we’re just refining decades of technology that had preceded us. In fact, they have been using a similar recipe since Babylonian times. We are just substituting readily available ingredients to the original recipe.

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“Then, about about four years ago, I was looking to build some pots for bonsai.I found a fellow on a Polish bonsai email list that was molding pots using only paper pulp and portland cement. I began experimenting with recipes and molds and it all grew from there.”

Coates uses everything from recycled telephone directories to junk mail to shredded documents from an undisclosed location too sensitive to discuss in this open forum. In other words, just about any paper will do. Soak the paper in water until it becomes pulp. Stirring helps.

Lee Coates shows off some of his creations after a demonstration at Garden Adventures in Nixa. He turns them into bonzai planters and miniature gardens.

“I have experimented with several different recipes but they are all basically just portland cement, paper pulp and a filler. My favorite filler is perlite.”

In that order, the ratio is 3-2-1 plus just enough water to turn it into a thick oatmeal paste. It blends easily with a mixing bit on a cordless drill in a bucket, and eventually a mold of your choosing. The rest is an art form. Allowed to dry (48-72 hours depending on size) and with with proper care, they should last at least 10 years.

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Posted in Photograph Post Date 01/12/2018