It's here - the paper making tutorial you've all been waiting for! This is such a fun activity - not only is it ideal to do with small helpers, but it's recycling at it's creative best, and cheap as chips to boot. What's not to love, eh? So pop on some old clothes (one does get a little wet), and let's get cracking.
A paper recyling kit (I bought mine from a National Geographic store years ago, but you can find them online here)
A tub that is larger in dimension than the deckle in your kit
A space to lie the paper down to dry. The kits usually come with drying boards, but they won't work if you want to make larger pieces. I usually use the concrete out the front of my house, as it's nice and smooth, but I always give it a good sweep first, as getting dirt on your new paper is rather annoying.
Step 1: Gather your paper to be recycled. I save every bit of coloured paper that comes my way. The more heavily pigmented the paper, the more colourful your hand made paper will be. Tissue paper, in particular, creates some vividly coloured paper, due to the heavy pigmentation.
Step 2: Sort the scrap paper into piles based on colour. It's best to do this, and then you will end up with lovely coloured paper, rather than some drab tone.
Step 3: Decide which pile you will attack first (we chose the blue pile), then rip up the paper into small pieces, about the size of a postage stamp.
Step 4: Cover the paper with water, and leave to soak overnight. If you are using glossy paper, such as old wrapping paper, or magazine paper, you may want to leave it to soak for 48 hours.
Step 5: Assemble your equipment in the place you are going to spread the paper out to dry (I usually do this bit outside). You will need a tub, a sponge, and your paper making kit, comprising of a draining mold, a piece of fine mesh, and the deckle (the wooden frame).
Step 6: Now it's time to make the paper pulp. Place a small handful of soaked paper into your blender, then fill the blender with water, being careful not to go over the maximum liquid indicator mark. Whizz until the paper looks small, and you can't see any big chunky pieces flying around.
Step 8: Assemble your kit. Place the mesh on top of the draining mold, then the deckle snugly on top of that.
Step nine: Holding your kit, dip it in the pulp mixture, holding tightly with both hands. Bring it up out of the tub, and, resting it on the side of the tub, let as much water drain out of it as possible.
Step 10: Remove the deckle. You will have a rectangle sheet of wet pulp on the mesh. Carefully pick up the mesh, and place it pulp side down on the ground, in the position you want it to dry in (i.e. full sun, away from curious pets).
Step 11: Carefully sponge off the mesh, getting all excess water out of the pulp (which isn't actually pulp any more - it's a very wet and rather soggy piece of paper!).
Step 12: Once you have removed as much water as possible, carefully pick up the end of the mesh, and peel it off the paper. If the paper begins to rip and stick to the mesh, place it back down and re-sponge it, using a dribble of water to removed the paper from the mesh.
Step 13: Voila! A brand new recycled piece of paper. Well done!
Step 14: To make larger pieces of paper, repeat steps 8 to 13, being careful to place the second piece of paper slightly over the edge of the first, so the overlapping sides will adhere together.
Now that you've mastered the technique, it's time to experiment. Here's some ideas to get you going:
Step 15: Continue until the piece is big enough for your liking. The one in the picture above is 5 pieces across and 3 down - 15 in all.
Step 16: Leave the paper out in the sun until it is absolutely bone dry, then very carefully pull it off the concrete. Ta da - you've done it!
- Try drying your paper on different surfaces, which will result in paper with amazing textures.
- Add different colours of pulp together to make 'swirl' effect paper.
- Scent your paper with essential oils.
- Sprinkle your paper with plant seeds, and then give as gifts. The recipients can plant them in the garden, and marvel when the plants grow up.
- Iron the paper once dried, for a super smooth surface on which to write.
- Experiment with plant dyes to really colourful paper.
- Get the little ones involved, and turn the paper into funky masks/cards for Grandma/Christmas decorations etc
I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial. If you have any questions, drop my an email or leave a comment.