How To Make Your Own Handmade Paper

Making your handmade paper is fun and inexpensive for children and adults!

Making your own paper is fun and inexpensive for children and adults. When you send a thank you note or an invitation on a piece of homemade paper, the receiver will know you really care and be impressed with your creativity. This article will tell you how to make home made paper and how to get extra creative with color, textures, and


Today's modern paper is made with the same general principals that were invented about 200 years ago. Before paper was developed, people wrote on many different surfaces including, rocks, bones, gold and other metals, clay, leather skins from animals, palm leaves, and trees. Well, at least some of the ancient people were getting close to the idea of paper when they were using the tree! The word papyrus, which means paper, is a Greek word for paper that was made from cut plant stalks laid side by side and pounded together. Though not considered true paper, it was at least thin and made from organic plant materials. The use of wood for paper making was invented around 1719 by a man named Rene` de Reamur who studied the way wasps made their nests from regurgitated wood. He thought that the thin paper like quality the wasp's nests could be used for a writing tablet. He passed the idea on to others who then began to make a pulp from wood. The first tree pulp paper book was made in 1786.

The three major steps of making paper are; making the pulp, pulling and couching, and drying.

To shape and press your paper you will need two screens, one for the top (the deckle) and one for the bottom (the mould). You can use ordinary window screening, but the best is made of a fiberglass, not metal screen. To make your own mould and deckle frame you can use canvas stretcher bars from an art supply store. Or, four pieces of wood mould, nailed together in a square to make a frame. Attach the screening with a staple gun, pulling it taught to all the edges of the frame. If you want to make this paper making project really simple; skip the wood framing altogether and just use two pieces of screen sandwiched between two embroidery hoops.

To make your own paper at home you can go the easy route and use recycled paper. All that junk mail and old magazines that you throw away can be used to make new beautiful paper creations. Or, you can buy paper pulp at an art supply store that will come in uniform sheets of the same cellulose plant fiber. Buying the pre-made pulp will provide a more uniform end result. In either case, all you need to do is tear up the paper into 1 to 2 inch squarish pieces. Soak them in a bowl of warm water or some people will want to boil them. Simply boil the paper in water for 5 minutes and then simmer the paper pulp for one hour to really break down the old paper. After the old paper is sufficiently softened to your liking, fill a blender with 3 cups of water. Into your blender you can add

a "˜sizing' to improve the quality and shine of your finished paper product and help it to hold together better. An easy sizing is made from 1 cup boiling water, 1 package of unflavored gelatin and 2 tablespoons corn starch. After the sizing is thoroughly mixed put it in your blender that has the warm water in it. Now add your softened paper pulp, put the lid on the blender and mix! Make sure all paper is blended into a "˜slurry' and there are no sharp edges or whole pieces of paper left. It should be a smooth, very fine liquidy substance.

Now is the time to add fancy things into your paper. You can add sparkle by stirring in glitter or sequins. You can color the paper by stirring in food coloring. You can add in flower petals or grasses by stirring them in gently. You can add in thread, yarn, ribbon or string cut into tiny pieces. Metallic thread or tinsel on green and red paper for the winter holidays is pretty. Adding in chunks of bright tissue paper torn into tiny pieces for the

spring holidays is fun. Adding in fragrance is also fun. Mix in lemon, vanilla, almond or any flavor extract into the water to give a really pleasant scent when finished. Liquid pot pourri oils can be used for an even stronger scent.

The next step is pulling and couching. Pour the blended paper into a large enough container that your mould can be placed down into. Stir the pulp mixture making sure it is smooth. If you want you can add any fragile ingredients such as flower petals after this process. Take your bottom framed screen (the mould) and immerse it in the pulp slowly, then slowly lift it up making sure that you have an even layer of the pulp on your screen.

Once lifted make sure that the layer is not too thin or fat and that there are no holes or lumps. If there are, dump it off and submerse the screen again. Pull up the mould and let the water drain off as you shake the screen back and forth gently. Place the top of the screen on it (the deckle). Now use dry towels to soak up excess water with the mould setting on top of a dry towel. Carefully open the mould and dump the paper onto a piece of smooth felt on a hard surface. Place another sheet of felt on top and use a rolling pin to smooth, strengthen and push more of the water out.

Allow the paper to dry for a couple of days. Or, if you are in a hurry you can use a blow dryer.

Enjoy your paper and let other people enjoy it also by writing your special notes to them, or making book marks and invitations. Make sure you keep a portfolio of all the paper you have made. This is just a beginning of papermaking, you can get much more creative once you have the hang of it.

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