Art out of invasion

Published 8:11 am Thursday, June 13, 2019

DETROIT LAKES — Amid the food trucks and the stands hawking arts and crafts at a recent street fair in Detroit Lakes, Anna Haglin had an unusual pitch.

“Hi,” she called to passersby. “Do you want to make paper?”

Haglin is standing next to a mobile paper making studio, a small trailer that supports a flat workspace.

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Haglin used her hands to mix a gelatinous gray pulp into a plastic tub half full of water. She’s an experienced paper maker, turning fibers mixed with water into paper by collecting the fibers on a screen dipped in the mixture.

But this paper is different: She’s making it out of an invasive plant, reed canary grass, a common invader in Minnesota wetlands.

“This stuff I picked in Moorhead near the Red River,” Haglin told Minnesota Public Radio News. “It grows everywhere, hence the invasive part. It’s really hard to get rid of.”