Tips For Making Homemade Paper

Tips for making homemade paper: an easy step-by-step guide to creating beautiful paper objects for fun and profit.

Papermaking is one of those wonderful crafts that are so entertaining and lead to beautiful artistic results that adults often enjoy the process, and so simple that children can also participate in all of the steps.

The supplies required for papermaking are as follows. What you don't already have at home can be found in most art supply stores or through art supply catalogues.

* Mould and deckle

* Pulp

* Water

* One household blender

* One large tub

* One sponge

* Sheets of clean paper at least the size of the deckle

* Things to add texture to the paper (i.e., dried petals and leaves, string, sticks, glitter)

If you're not familiar with these, the mould and deckle are a hoop covered with screen wire. You can make your own with an embroidery hoop and a piece of outdoor furniture fabric, the plastic or vinyl material used to cover the cushions. Make sure it has little holes to allow the water to drip. The fabric is preferred to screen wire because it doesn't rust.

The pulp is the fiber that you'll use to make the paper. Collect different varieties of paper and, if you want, sort it by color. Avoid newsprint which doesn't make good-quality fiber. Cut the paper into small pieces or shred it with a paper shredder. Soak the paper in water overnight. Drain the water and replace it with fresh water. Pulverize this mixture in a blender in small batches to avoid damage to the equipment. You'll probably need to add up to two cups of water to your pulp material each time you run a new batch. The pulp's consistency should resemble that of oatmeal.

Pour the pulp into a large tub. A new large cat box is usually a good size. Add cold tap water keeping in mind that the more water you add, the thinner your sheets will be. Small, light items, such as dried petals and leaves, can be thrown in the tub to add texture to your handmade paper.

While holding the deckle securely on the mould, dip it into the pulp. You can usually get better results by dipping the mould and deckle into the far side of the tub and pulling it towards yourself. When you get to the other end of the tub, level the mould and deckle and lift them out of the pulp carefully and shake them gently from side to side so some of the excess water can drip.

Flip the mould onto a sheet of paper (or some other absorbent material like a cloth or felt) to remove the pulp from it. Use the sponge to press the back of the mould to remove as much water as possible. Slowly, pull the mould off of the sheet that now holds your handmade paper. You can also add texture to your paper at this stage. For instance, to add a watermark, use some string to draw a design on the wet sheet. When the sheet is dry, remove the string to expose the watermark. After you're finished, add another clean sheet of paper or piece of cloth to cover the handmade paper and repeat the process until you've made as many pieces as you wanted. Stack the newly made sheets into a neat pile and place a heavy book or board on it to press the sheets down. Let your sheets dry, usually a full day. If you live in a dry climate or it's winter and your furnace is on, it will take less time.

When your sheets feel dry to the touch, peel off the protective sheets of paper or cloth very slowly and carefully. Voilà! You've got your own recycled paper. Continue the fun by making greeting cards, book covers and wall hangings with them. You can use pretty much anything you want to decorate the finished sheets. Experiment with acrylic paint, thread and needle, and leftover fabric to create unique designs.

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