The plan was to boil the sunflower stalks, save the liquid for dyeing, and use the pulp for papermaking. I started with 500gms of sunflower stalk, cut into 2"-3" pieces, 90gms of soda ash, and water. The soda ash will help break down the pulpy bits. The pot will sit overnight and the boiling process will begin tomorrow.
No living sunflower was harm in the making of this project. This one fell over and broke.
This is the results of 2 - 3hours boiling sessions with it cooling and stewing overnight. It's still not ready yet. The stems are a lot tougher than I thought. In hindsight, I think I should have cut the pieces in half, lengthwise.
You are so lucky that you can't smell what's coming out of this pot! The first time I ever made paper with plant fibre was years ago when we lived in a little apartment in the West End. It took days to get rid of the smell. Fortunately, we had a corner apartment and the ocean breeze really helped. Still, I don't think my husband really forgave me for that. Everytime I bring out my pots, he cringes. Now, I do this in the backyard. The smell is not as bad as when I render suet but it's pretty bad.
Today is such a hot day that I left the pot outside in the sun. I've been stirring it every hour and it's steaming.
Edited to add:
Just found out that the liquid will not be good to dye wool as the soda ash will damage wool fibres. It will be ok to use for dyeing silk or cotton. Hmmm...