There’s this little town on the Garden Route, South Africa, called Sedgefield. It’s a quaint, quiet little place with many artists and retired folk. What makes it stand out in my opinion is the Scarab market, and the hand made Elephant/Rhino dung recycled paper.
The story of the paper started in the ‘80’s when wildlife artist, Sheila Cooper was walking through a KwaZulu Natal Game Reserve, and stopped to examine a Rhino dung. She had been painting on recycled paper, and experimenting with fibres. She would chop grasses, and other fibres, to add to her hand made recycled paper. The thought came to her that the fibres in the dung were no different to that of chopped grass and leaves. The digestive system of these animals does not break the fibre down very well. So that what goes in, is close to what comes out. She also noticed that elephants and rhinos roam over different environments, therefore have a varied diet, and the result in the paper would be very unique. She decided to name the paper after the scarab dung beetle.
The owners of Scarab paper say that they are the only company in Africa, and perhaps the world to print on this type of paper. Printing is done on a special old Heidelberg Printing Press, which prints only one color at a time. First comes the red, then the blue, then yellow and finally black.
Conservation comes in many forms and shapes, why not in art. My family owns some the paper, which I would like to add, is odorless. My family owns not only some of the beautiful wall art, but also some the more functional pieces such as greeting cards. Anyone who passes through Sedgefield should stop at this unique market.
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Author: Principle writer – Celeste Wilson
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