Handmade paper adds a texture and quality to projects that is quite unique. While it is possible to buy handmade papers in a wide variety of styles and colours, it is also possible to make paper at home using recycled paper and cardboard. A few pieces of basic equipment are all that is required to make paper at home and this is a great project for children as well as adults.
Types of Paper to Recycle
Recycling paper and cardboard to make new pieces of handmade paper is a good way to reduce waste. Most types of paper are suitable for recycling in this way, however items such as newspaper, cardboard from cereal packets or tubes from rolls of paper and other similar items work particularly well. Coated paper, such as photos or shiny calendars are not suitable for turning into handmade paper.
Paper Making Frame
A frame is required to make paper. Special paper making frames can be purchased from craft shops or paper making suppliers. It is also possible to improvise and items such as a window frame with an insect mesh or a frame made from a bent clothes hanger and covered with nylon tights make suitable low-cost alternatives.
- A bucket
- Large potato masher or whisk
- Before starting it is important to remove any items such as staples or paper clips. Then tear the paper into small pieces and place in a bucket. Cover the scraps of paper with water and leave to soak for at least an hour. It is important that the paper is completely soaked through
- Pour off the excess water and use the potato masher or whisk to mash the paper into a pulp. The finer the pulp the smoother the finished paper will be
- Pour the paper pulp over the frame. Smooth the pulp over the frame so that the surface is evenly covered. Let the excess water drain through the frame
- Place a towel on a flat surface and place the frame, pulp side down, onto the towel. Carefully peel away the frame and leave the paper pulp on the towel
- Place another towel on top of the paper pulp and press down firmly on the surface to remove any remaining water. This will help to compress the paper fibres and make a compact piece of paper
- Let the paper dry completely before using
It is very easy to vary the basic paper making process to add texture and colour to the paper. Pieces of tissue paper will add colour to the paper pulp or it can be coloured using food colourants or dyes. Add items such as pieces of wool, yarn or fancy threads to give texture and interest to the paper.
A fun variation is to make plantable paper. Seeds are added to the paper pulp and the finished paper can then be planted and plants will grow from the seeds. As the seeds will start growing in damp conditions it is particularly important to ensure that the paper pulp dries as quickly as possible to stop the seeds from starting to germinate.
Handmade paper with its rich texture adds a wonderful finishing touch to projects. The fact that it is made from recycled paper and therefore is kind to the environment is a great reason to give this project a try.