Making homemade paper sheets is a fun and inexpensive hobby. In fact, you probably already have everything he does at home for you to do with it! Papermaking is also a great activity to do with children. If you are a kindergarten teacher, it is a great crafts experience for your young students. To make paper, you will need to mix pulp and water before pouring it onto a piece of mosquito net. You should be able to buy all the materials you need at a craft supply store.
Part 1 of 4: prepare the pulp
Step 1. Attach a mosquito net to a wooden frame
Buy a piece of mosquito net from a hardware store and use a pair of sharp pruning shears to cut out a rectangle measuring 30cm by 20cm. Then lay the piece you just cut out on a wooden frame. Hang it from the frame with staples or nails on the outer edges.
- If you don't have a wooden frame, that's okay. You can also make paper out of just the piece of mosquito net, it will be just a little softer than if you had tied it to a frame.
- If you prefer not to make it yourself, you can also buy it at a fine arts supply store.
Step 2. Find recyclable paper around your home or office
Newsprint might be the easiest source of paper to start with, but you can also use old printed matter, notes, or yearbooks. In fact, any unwaxed paper will do. Remember that the color of the papers you use and the amount of dark ink they contain will affect the color of the final product. Materials that are dark or have a lot of ink will produce dark gray paper.
- If you want to make white paper, only collect sheets of paper with little ink or printed matter on it. Even a small amount of ink can make your paper gray.
- Avoid glossy papers because you cannot use them to make your own paper. This type of paper is usually found in magazines, printed photos and gift wrap.
Step 3. Remove the plastic and staples
Especially if you are using flyers, the scrap paper you use is likely to contain plastic, for example in the windows of envelopes. If you leave them on, staples and other materials could damage your blender.
Step 4. Tear the paper into 5cm wide strips
The pieces should not have a perfectly uniform shape, but they should be about 5 cm in width. If you are preparing a large amount of paper and don't want to spend hours tearing sheets of paper, you can also run them through a shredder.
If you are doing this project with kids, they will love to tear up the sheets of paper. Let them take care of this step
Step 5. Soak in hot water for four to six hours
Put the torn paper strips in a pitcher or large bowl until it is half full. Fill the container to the brim with hot tap water to make sure all the pieces of paper are submerged. Let it soak for four to six hours.
- Depending on how much paper you want to make, you may need two or three containers for this step.
- If you want to get white paper, add 120 ml of white vinegar to the mixture.
Step 6. Blender for at least 30 seconds
Pour the strips of paper into a blender to fill it two-thirds full. Blend them on low speed for 30 to 40 seconds. You want a smooth, well-mixed dough where there aren't any little bits of paper left. If you set the blender on too high a speed, you're going to end up with a runny soup that won't make good paper.
- If you have several containers full of paper strips, you will not be able to mix them all at the same time. You will have to pulp them in several batches.
- Pulp is a thick, sticky, slightly runny substance that will eventually become your new sheets of paper. Once it is compressed on the grid and begins to dry, it is referred to as “paper pulp”.
- In general, the pulp is more liquid and softer than the pulp.
Part 2 of 4: add unique elements
Step 1. Add five or six drops of food coloring to the dough
Food coloring in the pulp is a quick and easy way to add a nice color to the final product. Once you've added the coloring, stir with a spoon until the dough turns a smooth color. If you want to create paper with two different colors, add a few drops of different food coloring to create unique colored papers.
- If you mix more than two colors in one container, you will end up with an unattractive brown.
- Adding materials and dyes to the paste is a great way to give your paper an artistic touch.
Step 2. Add seeds to the pulp
Buy a bag of wild plant seeds or aromatic herbs and pour half of them into the dough after mixing. If you don't want to use seeds, you can pour a handful of lumpy flower petals, leaves or green herbs into the container to decorate your paper. Seed paper is great for giving gifts for any occasion!
- Do not mix or crush the seeds after adding them. It will destroy them and they will never grow.
- If you are adding large pieces of flowers or leaves to the dough, cut them into 6mm pieces before putting them.
- You can also create seed paper by pressing small seeds onto the final product before drying it.
Step 3. Add a pinch of glitter to make the paper shine
If you want to get shiny sheets of paper, pour 4g of glitter into the dough after mixing it. Choose the colors that you like and that will complement the color of the paper. Avoid putting on too much glitter or you could end up with paper falling apart.
Customize the elements you add to it to create a truly unique paper. Try adding seeds and food coloring or lay two layers of different colored pulp on top of each other to create one sheet with one color on the front and another on the back
Part 3 of 4: install the paper
Step 1. Fill a large saucepan 1/3 full with hot water
Use a saucepan that is at least 45 cm by 60 cm to prepare a large amount of paper at one time. You choose how much water you want to use. If you fill the pan more than half full, you will get a liquid pulp and a delicate paper. If you fill it less than a third full, you are going to have a very thick pulp and a tough, fibrous paper.
A large saucepan is recommended for this step. You can also use a large rectangular plastic container. It should be a little wider and longer than your frame and more or less the same shape
Step 2. Pour the batter into the pan
Start by pouring in between 1, 2 and 1, 4 liters of dough. The amount you add to the water will determine the thickness of the paper. If you are new to papermaking, experiment with different amounts of pulp. You can change the thickness of the final product to make thin stationery or cardboard by adding more or less paste in this step.
Even if you want to get a dense suspension of dough to completely cover the frame in the following steps, you don't have to fill the entire container with thick dough
Step 3. Stir the dough in the water until a smooth texture
Once the dough is in the pot, stir with a wooden spoon for ten to twenty seconds until the saturated dough is evenly distributed in the pot. If you don't have a wooden spoon handy, you can mix the dough with your hands. Roll up your sleeves so as not to get them wet and work the mixture with your fingers.
Step 4. Dip the frame into the pulp mixture
Hold the frame at 45 degrees and immerse it in the container with the grid facing down. Once it's completely submerged, tilt it to line it up with the level of the dough. Gently shake it from side to side, then the other until the pulp on the grill is flat.
If you are not careful to spread the dough well on the grid, you will end up with sheets of paper that will have thicker and thinner areas
Step 5. Lift the frame out of the water
Be careful not to tip it over while lifting it. Hold the frame over the container for four to five minutes to allow excess water to drain. Wait until the pulp has drained off and you should see the start of your sheet of paper. If you don't want to strain your arms, you can place the frame on one of the corners of the container.
If at this point the paper is thicker than you want, remove some pulp from the top. If it is too thin, plunge the frame back into the dough and repeat the step of accumulating the dough on the grid
Part 4 of 4: lay down the paper
Step 1. Transfer the pulp to a soft, absorbent surface
Turn the frame upside down and lay it on two to three towels. The edge of the frame where you installed the nails or staples should face up so that the paper can contact the napkins. Press very gently on the back of the rack to transfer the sheet of paper that is on the rack to the material you have chosen to dry it. Then use a sponge to absorb as much water as possible from the other side of the grill, wringing it out from time to time.
Instead of napkins, you can also use large sheets of felt. In fact, felt is a traditional material in paper making
Step 2. Raise the frame and remove it from the paper
Gently lift the absorbent material from the frame. The sheet of paper should now remain on it. Slowly lift it up to make sure the paper doesn't peel off the napkin or felt as you remove the frame. If it is stuck to the frame, you may have pressed too hard or you did not remove enough water.
You can flatten a dry sheet of paper by putting another towel on top and pressing gently. This will make the paper smoother and thinner. Leave the second towel on while it dries
Step 3. Peel off the paper from the grid if it is stuck on it
If you are preparing heavy paper, it might not transfer to the napkin and stick to the grid. If this happens, grab one of the corners of the sheet of paper between your thumb and forefinger. Gently peel it off the grid. The paper should come off the grid easily as long as you don't try to peel it off sharply.
- If not, use a blow dryer to blow hot air under the paper for ten to fifteen seconds.
- Also peel it off the towel if it gets stuck on it.
Step 4. Let dry overnight
Take the sheet of paper and place it to dry on a flat surface. Depending on the thickness of the paper, it may take six to eight hours to dry completely. You can now use your homemade sheet of paper!
Alternatively, you can speed up the drying process by blowing hot air over it with a hair dryer. Use the lowest setting and blow hot air over the paper for ten minutes
Step 5. Repeat the same steps to create more sheets of paper
Once you are done making one sheet of paper, you can continue making more. Place the frame back in the dough container and make as many leaves as you want! Continue until there is no more dough in the container.
Keep adding pulp and water to the container to make sure it stays moist and there are enough pieces of paper to make strong leaves
- If you dry the paper on fabric, it might take on the material's color and texture, which is why you need to be careful.
- You can also add fluff from the dryer to the paper, but don't just use this material to make paper or it will fall apart.