TURNING leftovers into something wonderful, Julia Child once remarked, is the test of a good cook. Julia, meet Jane Burrell. The Hong Kong resident has a way with onion skins and leeks, choi sum and pumpkin that isn't found in any cookbook. The British-born artist turns vegetable scraps into paper. ''Paper-making is a lot like cooking,'' says Mrs Burrell, kneeling over a huge plastic tub in her driveway, her hands lost in a rust-coloured witches brew. ''You have to enjoy the process. It's messy.'' Within 24-hours, if the sun obliges and the humidity remains low, this batch of onion skins, sieved as pulp and patted like cookie dough, will dry in the sunshine and eventually produce 50 sheaves of pale cocoa-coloured paper. ''You can make paper from any fibrous material, most any plant,'' she explained. Her ''ingredients'' sound like a menu for a vegetarian restaurant: the lanterns from cape gooseberries, artichoke leaves, cabbage, tomato stems. While banana skins are too sticky, the fibres from the banana tree are quite versatile. Choi sum mixed with some hibiscus produces a fine grain, buff-coloured paper with pale yellow strands. An example of this winning combination sits on her dining table. For her daughter's wedding in December, she agreed to make all the invitations. Holding one up to the sunlight, she points to the miniscule leaves of a fern, a tiny purple petal embedded in the thick, parchment-toned paper. ''They're almost too pretty to mail. They should be hand-delivered.'' She tested their durability by sending one to England. The result? She beamed. Her experiment in recycling isn't limited by what's in the garden. Cotton tee-shirts, pieces of ribbons, even tree bark have been used with success. But not all her experiments have made it into art galleries or under gift wrap. ''With potato skins, I ended up with something that looked like bubble n' squeak. Flowers from broccoli were too mushy. ''I'm dying to try carrots. If they're good source of fibre for human digestion, I wonder about their fibre for paper. And what colour carrot would produce?'' Onion skins produce a medium-brown earth tone. If a thinner weight paper is desired or a lighter shade, the pulp is thinned with water. For a thicker weight or darker colour, no water is added. Pulp comes from boiling the scraps for two hours. A pulp can be tinted with natural dyes. And no, beets don't produce the hue associated with the name. Sugar cane gives off a lovely sheen when used in tandem with another vegetable. ''There isn't enough cellulose in sugar cane to be used by itself. But choi sum can. It's sturdier.'' She gives the paper as gifts and introduces it as a texture element in her three dimensional, sculptural artworks. An experimental four months with local plants led her into paper-making. Mrs Burrell is already a respected painter and ceramist. The few utensils needed can be found in any kitchen. Her 10-year-old second-hand Kenwood mixer is a workhorse. And the 70-year-old butler, whom she taught to assist her in paper-making would rather do art than dinner. She hoards in scraps like a miser, packing each batch in plastic freezer bags and stowing them next to the ice cream. ''My kids always complained that our refrigerator was the only one in Hong Kong that had nothing good to eat.'' Examples of her recent works are in ''Paper and Clay'', an exhibition of her works at the Mandarin Oriental Fine Arts. It continues until November 6.