The sun has made a couple of appearances, and when the sun comes out all I want to do is make paper. Why fight it? I’m always in a crafty mood so it makes sense to craft! Making paper and cards is one of my absolute favorite past times so I would never want to miss an opportunity to do so. I came across some of these gift ideas for card makers the other day and I couldn’t get the idea out of my head so I told myself that as soon as it was sunny, I would make some paper for my cards, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.
I decided to take the opportunity to make a bunch of plantable heart cards, using flower seeds and a simple pour-over paper making method (instead of my usual dip method featured here and here.) The pour-over method uses paper scraps and things that you probably have around the house; making this an awesome, kid-friendly, activity for a sunny afternoon.
Pour-over Paper Making Supplies
• Shredded scrap paper Mix your favorite color and white paper for the best results. You can use a shredder, scissors, or your hands to tear the paper into manageable bits.
• Smallish flower seeds I felt several packets of seeds before settling on a combination of chamomile, viola, and alyssum seeds. You can also give it a cooking theme by using tiny herb seeds.
• A “Deckle”- This will be the template for your sheet of paper. I used an inexpensive, wood, heart-shaped picture frame that I picked up at the craft store.
• 2 screens, slightly larger than your deckle- I used small pieces of window screen material from the hardware store. I have also had some luck with sheer curtain material and other porous fabrics.
• A blender
• A large bowl (or two)
• A wire cooling rack for support
• A rectangular cake pan to catch the runoff.
• A sponge or absorbent rag
• A couple of flat absorbent rags larger than your intended paper size.
Step 1: Making Paper Pulp
To make the pulp for your paper, first soak the shredded paper in water for a little bit. Typically I will dunk them all in water while I’m getting all my supplies together. Once they are saturated put a handful into your blender, with about twice that amount of water.
Then pulse your blender to pulverize the paper pulp. (If you feel like your blender is having trouble, add more water to your mix. The paper pulp quickly becomes thick sludge that’s harder to cut through. It’s better to err on the side of too much water.) When your mix is starting to look like a disgusting smoothie, open it up and take a look at the mix. I like to stop when the mix is a little bit chunky, but mostly liquified.
Step 2: Preparing your Mould
Stack the cooling rack, screen, and deckle on top of your cake pan. This is where you’ll be pouring your pulp in a minute.
Step 3: Mixing in the wildflower seeds.
Transfer your pulp from the blender to a pouring bowl. You will be using several batches of pulp, so pour just a little bit of your flower seed into the bowl and stir gently with your fingers.
Step 4: Pouring the Pulp
Slowly pour your pulp mixture into the deckle. The water from the pulp will run through the screen and leave you with saturated paper fibers in the shape of your deckle.
Very gently, lift the deckle directly up towards the ceiling. (A note: One of the best parts about paper-making is that almost any mess up can be fixed by dumping the sheet back into the pulpy water, breaking it up with your hand, and starting over again. So if your shape doesn’t look right, or your get a tear or a bubble, just dump it back in and try again!) You will have a nice pile of wet paper mess.
Step 5: Drying the Paper
The final bits are all about drying the paper. Although much of the water falls through while you’re pouring, the fibers hold on to a lot of moisture. First, place your second piece of screen on top of the pulp and absorb as much of the water as you can by pressing gently with a sponge. This will flatten the pulp into something that looks more like a sheet of paper. (You can wring the sponge out into your pulp bowl, and dump the excess water in there that runs into your cake pan.)
Use the same flipping method to transfer your sheet onto a surface that it can remain on to air dry. (I like to cover my dining table with bath towels.) Once you’re done making paper, you can dump the remaining pulp and water outside.
Usually the paper will dry overnight, but may take a little more time in a damp or cold room. Once they are completely dry, you can decorate them however you please.
Since Mother’s Day is coming up, I decided to use one of my sheets as a card. I used the seed packets as inspiration and wrote a little message on the back, including directions for planting the card.
When you’re ready to toss out this card, plant it instead! It has a mix of viola, alyssum, and chamomile seeds– just cover with a little soil, water, and you might find yourself with a few new blooms.
Since every card needs an envelope, I decided to make a simple one from a paper grocery bag.
Simple Envelope Supplies
• A paper bag
• Your handmade paper deckle
• A Pencil
• A Ruler
• Scissors or craft knife
Open up the paper bag by cutting until you have a flat sheet. Place the deckle in the center and trace the inside with your pencil.
To make your envelope guide, draw a box around your deckle shape, leaving about a quarter of an inch of space on each side. Extend the lines out from the box (as shown above).
Cut the corner portions out of the form you drew, leaving a plus sign shape with your heart-shape in the center. Fold along each of the straight lines, and trim the flaps so that they overlap about a half an inch.
Fold in one of the side flaps, then apply glue to the other side flap, fold it over, and do the same with the bottom flap.
You should have the perfect envelope for your card! Just slip it in, seal the last flap and send it to somebody special. (Remember that oddly shaped envelopes require more postage. Check with your post office for more details.)
I’m really happy with the way my card turned out, and glad that I was able to come up with another way to recycle materials I had already.
Now I have a nice stack of paper hearts packed full of flower seeds- what should I do with the rest of them?