Different Ways To Make Paper

Simple do it yourself instructions provided to make paper at home from either recycled paper goods or using plant products.

Making paper at home can be a fun and easy project, albeit a messy one. You can choose to recycle old newspaper and magazines or make paper completely from scratch.

Recycled Paper

Material Needed:

Used paper such as old newspapers, magazines, paper toweling, etc. torn into small strips

Food processor

Liquid Starch

3-4 cups of plain water

Sink or container that will hold about 4 inches of water

Old screening or old pantyhose (no snags or runs)

Wooden frame or several wire coat hangers or embroidery hoop

Several pieces of white felt cut to the size of the screens

Two large cookie sheets

Hammer and Tacks

Begin the paper making process by creating a screened form. You can use a wooden frame or embroidery hoop or you can open up several wire coat hangers and bend them into square shapes. If using a wooden frame, tack the old screening onto the frame pulling it as taut as possible. If using an embroidery hoop, you can use either the panty hose or the screening. Place the screening material between the embroidery hoops, pull taut and mash the hoops together to hold the screen tightly. If you choose to use a wire coat hanger bent into shape, cover any rough edges with masking tape and carefully pull the panty hose over the hanger, taking special care not to snag the hose. Pull the hose taut and secure with tape.

Now that you have your screens prepared and ready, you can begin the paper making process. This is a messy project so you may choose to work outside. If you decide to make paper inside the house, do yourself a favor and completely cover your work area with newspaper to make clean up easier. Fill the bottom of the sink or a container large enough for the size screens created with about 4 inches of water.

Tear the paper product chosen into small strips. Add a good amount of paper to the food processor with a bit of water. Turn on the machine and let it run for a few minutes. Continue adding paper and water until you have a good sized ball of gooey mess. Run the food processor for a few minutes after the last addition of paper and water to allow the pulp to become as smooth as possible.

Add about 2-3 tablespoons liquid starch the water in the sink and stir gently to incorporate the starch into the water. Add a good amount of paper pulp to the water and starch mixture and stir well. You may choose to use your hands on this part of the process to make sure the water and pulp mixture have blended well and there are no lumps in the mixture.

With your hands, stir the pulp mixture up off the bottom of the sink and immerse the screen down into the mixture. Gently pull the screen up to the top of the water level trying to keep the pulp mixture contained in the screen mesh as even as possible. The goal is to completely cover the mesh of the screen with the pulp mixture. If it looks like it contains too many holes, you may need to add more pulp to the sink and begin the process again.

After you have pulled the screen to the top of the water and are satisfied that the pulp has completely covered the surface of the screen and is evenly distributed, allow all the excess water to drip from the screen. Cover the pulp side of the screen with one piece of cut felt, then cover the felt with a cookie sheet. Carefully invert the cookie sheet so the screen is on the top and the felt and cookie sheet are on the bottom. Cover the screen with a second piece of felt. Using a sponge, press on the felt covered paper to remove as much water as possible, squeezing the excess water from the sponge back into the sink as you work. Allow the pulp to dry slightly, remove the top layer of felt from the screen and then carefully remove the screen from the pulp, leaving behind the newly created piece of wet paper. Cover the new sheet of paper with a dry piece of felt and start the process over. Additional sheets of newly made paper can be stacked onto the felt and cookie sheet ending with a piece of felt on the top of the stack. Cover the stack with the second cookie sheet. Take the sandwiched pieces of paper either outside or to the bathtub and squeeze as much excess water from the paper as possible.

Once the excess water has been removed from the stacked sheets of paper and felt, you can begin peeling them apart. The paper should be allowed to dry thoroughly by either hanging it outside in the sun or placing it onto new pieces of dry felt. The addition of liquid starch to the water should enable you to use ink on the paper without much of a bleeding problem.

Paper made from scratch

Rather than using recycled paper products, here is a way to make paper from scratch using plant leaves for the pulp. The actual paper making method remains the same, but plant leaves have proven for centuries to produce useable paper and paper products.

It is important to start with fresh, green leaves or the dried leaves of the plants chosen, as you cannot make paper successfully using dead leaves. Most broad-leafed trees, such as banana leaves and fig leaves, are acceptable plant types. While you can mix the different types of leaves, you must process them separately. This recipe calls for the use of cooking the pulp mixture with caustic soda, therefore, it is important to move this project out of doors and wear protective goggles and gloves to protect yourself from possible burns caused by the soda.

Begin with the fresh leaves by soaking them overnight in a container with enough water to completely cover the leaves. After soaking the plant leaves, move them to a large enamel or stainless steel pot. Fill the pot with a bucket of fresh water. Add 4 tablespoons of caustic soda to the water pot. Simmer the mixture for two hours stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or stick being careful of splashing the caustic liquid onto your skin or in your eyes. The plant material will feel slippery and come apart easily when it has been cooked long enough.

Remove the plant material from the caustic liquid and thoroughly wash out the soda. You may find the use of a colander helpful for this process. Rinse the plant material thoroughly until the water runs clear. While it is safe to rinse caustic soda into the garden, it is not recommended to rinse caustic soda down the drain. Place a small amount of the plant material into a food processor and process until it resembles mush. Add a bit of water to the mixture as you process to keep it wet. Once the plant material has been processed, follow the same directions for recycled products to make the sheets of paper.

© High Speed Ventures 2011