How to make handmade paper

Making handmade paper can be a fun and inexpensive way to reuse old pieces of paper and cardboard in order to make something new and lovely. The paper can be used for handmade greeting cards or stationery, or as the basis for an art project.

The equipment and supplies needed are simple. You will need a blender or hand mixer to make the paper pulp; some window screening to make the mold and a wooden frame to make the deckle; a tub large enough to entirely submerge the frame; some squares of white or cream-colored felt or flannel fabric; and a wooden block or rolling pin to help press water out of the new paper. It is best not to use a blender you use for cooking, as some papers have dyes that might stain the blender and later contaminate food. Try to find an old blender at a yard sale or thrift shop for use in making paper. If you cannot find an old blender, you may use an old hand mixer (again, one not used in food preparation).

If you use the mixer, you will probably have to run it much longer in order to get the proper consistency of pulp. The fabric squares should be slightly larger than the wooden frame you choose. Make the mold and deckle by stapling the window screening to the wooden frame. Make sure the screen is taut after it is attached to the frame. You can purchase a mold and deckle at an art and craft supply store if you choose not to make your own

Almost any kind of paper can be used to make handmade paper: old greeting cards, computer paper, egg cartons, magazines, newspapers, cardboard (as long as it is not coated with anything), construction paper, and napkins. If you use cardboard, be sure to soak it in warm water first. The color of the original paper will influence the color of your finished paper. For example, adding a lot of newspapers to the pulp will produce a grayish paper, while adding blue and yellow construction paper will produce a greenish paper. If you add complementary colors of paper to the pulp, you will end up with a brown or black tint. The thickness of the original paper will also influence the heaviness of the finished paper, as thicker paper, such as cardboard, will produce a heavier paper than pulp made from a thin paper such as tissue paper.

The first step in making handmade paper is to tear up the old paper into small pieces and put them in the blender. Fill the blender most of the way with warm water, being careful to leave a little room at the top. Cover the blender and run it on a low speed to start, gradually increasing the speed to high. Blend until the pulp looks smooth. This should take about a minute if you started with small enough pieces of paper.

If there are still lumps of paper in the pulp, repeat the blending process until you get a smooth, lump-free pulp. Fill the tub halfway with water. Pour the pulp into the tub. Make two more batches of pulp and pour them into the tub. Mix very well. Now check the consistency of the pulp. If it seems too thin, make another batch or two of pulp and add it to the tub and stir well. If it seems too thick, add more water to the tub until you have the consistency of pulp that you desire.

Lower the mold and deckle into the tub of pulp. Lift it out of the tub and move it gently from side to side, ensuring that the entire screen is covered with a consistent layer of pulp. Let the water drain from the pulp until the mold is no longer dripping. Place one edge of the mold on the edge of a fabric square. Gently lay the mold down flat on the fabric. The new paper should be on top of the fabric. Put a cloth over the paper and press out extra water with a wooden block or a rolling pin, letting the extra water run back into the tub.

When you have pressed out as much water as possible, hold the fabric flat and slowly lift the mold away from the fabric. The new paper should remain on the fabric. If it does not, you may need to press out more water. You may also need to lift the mold away more slowly. After the paper has been separated from the mold, press the paper one more time to eliminate any uneven spots, bubbles, or leftover water.

Repeat until the pulp is used up. Stack the fabric squares on top of each other as you finish each one. Put a fabric square on top of the pile and press any extra water out of the pile.

Separate the squares carefully. They may be dried on sheets of newspaper or on a clothes-drying rack. When they have dried, you may peel the paper off each fabric square. Now, have fun with your unique paper!

Separate the squares carefully

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