I have always wanted to make paper. It seemed like a magic trick.
I mean, you’re gonna make paper out of only paper? AMAZING.
When Rachel asked me what I wanted to do on our upcoming craft retreat, this was the first thing that popped into my head. What follows can only be referred to as an adventure… in magic!
What You Need
• Recycled wastepaper
• Paper shredder
• Blender (I would recommend buying one second hand and only using it for paper making)
• Large Dip Handmold
• Large dishpan or container
• Piece of cloth or sheet
• Warm water
For those of you who don’t know, you can make paper out of your trash. This part I found particularly exciting because it fit in perfectly with my hoarder tendencies. (No, I don’t keep my trash, I just hate throwing it out. Especially shredded paper which the recycling “man” won’t take.)
We shredded paper using a paper shredder, and our hands (when the shredder died a loud horrible death, making a noise that Patrick referred to as a cry of “just let me go.”) We sorted it by color (which meant that the resulting papers were slightly different shades of gray.)
I dunked it all in a bucket of warm water to soak for a while.
Here I am, excited about a bucket full of water and shredded paper.
I took these handfulls and put them in a blender (ala Goodwill) along with more warm water. I then blended them until they were the consistency of…. pulped paper.
I poured several batches of the pulp into a larger storage container filled with more warm water.
There are several ways to build the “pulp catcher.” I cheated and bought one on clearance at a craft store. (It’s an Arnold Grummer.) It’s basically a thick screen with small holes sandwiched between a wooden frame (deckle) and a hard plastic screen. I slipped the whole sandwich underneath the water and brought it up slowly until it was above the water and evenly coated in pulp.
This is what the pulp looks like at first (and when it starts feeling like magic.)
The kit also included a thin piece of screen. After removing the whole kit from the water, I removed the wooden deckle, and laid the piece of screen over the top.
I have to admit from here on out the tasks were a little tedious. First I had to press most of the water out of the pulp, through the screen, using a sponge and all of my wringing strength.
Then I got this piece of magic… something that looked like a piece of paper!
After flipping the thick screen over onto a piece of old sheet, and sponging the back of it some more, I was able to separate the paper from the whole kit. I sandwiched the piece in between two cotton sheets, and ironed it like crazy (highest setting) until it was mostly dry.
I left all the pieces between two heavy wooden planks over night… to see what happens next check out this post on Handmade Paper Envelopes.
During this adventure I learned…
• Paper is magic, and putting your hands in warm pulpy water is therapeutic.
• Don’t use your fancy appliances for crafting. I killed the shredder and blender. (Though, I think it was shoddy modern manufacturing what did them in.) The iron…
• The iron got coated in some sort of ick. Fortunately I used our old iron, AND discovered that the ick was easily removed by white vinegar and a little scrubbing.
• After doing the paper making process a few times, I actually got rid of the ironing step. Now I roll the sheets out between 2 shamwows (I know…) and then place them on extra cardboard while they are still pretty damp. Once they are dry enough to hold their form, I transfer them to a clothes line to dry, until I move them into a stack to dry fully between two heavy peices of wood.
• When you use junk mail, your paper is going to be gray. Most of the tutorials I read recommended using blank papers, and colored tissue paper. I’d rather have gray paper than create more trash in the world, but we’ll see how things go.
• Thick flower petals and pieces do not work best for this project. I ended up with a couple of very lumpy pages. Also, predried flowers often have dyes on them that do not bleed how you think they should.
• Rachel is a great crafting cheerleader and documentorian, and Patrick loves me, and proved it by ironing paper for hours.