Have you ever wondered how to make homemade paper? You can make your own beautiful recycled paper out of shredded paper and junk mail. It’s pretty simple to do, and a lot of fun, too. Once you learn the basics of making homemade paper, you’ll enjoy getting creative with the process.
What homemade paper is like
When you make homemade paper, the finished product is fairly coarse and thick. It has uneven edges, and looks very old-fashioned, kind of like a parchment from centuries ago.
It can be a little bit difficult to write on, especially with modern pens. You can use this handcrafted paper great for calligraphy, art lettering, for making homemade greeting cards, a journal cover or divider pages, gift tags, and scrapbooking.
You can also use it for watercolor and other art projects. It will be different from the sort of paper you’re used to, but that can help make your art unique.
It’s a great way to make use of old junk mail or magazines, or even old documents you’re shredding because you don’t need them anymore.
You can also use old wrapping paper, tissues or old note paper. Sticky notes are not recommended because the sticky stuff can gum up your blender. But you can use the unsticky part of these notes if you want to take the time to trim off the sticky end.
You can even use cardboard from old boxes as long as you’ve scraped off any labels carefully. You’ll need to soak these for quite some time – possibly even a day or so.
You can also make really beautiful designs and patterns with homemade paper. For example, make two sets of pulp, one whitish and another darker, and swirl the darker around in the lighter before pressing.
As you experiment, you’ll find that glossy papers and pulpy papers yield different textures. Color is a little bit hard to predict, as the dyes in the original pages stay in, but it’s hard to guess how one dye will affect the other.
It’s all part of the fun, though. Every piece you make will be pretty.
This is definitely a great project for kids. Young kids may need help with the blender, but pre-teens and up will be able to do this by themselves.
How to Make Homemade Paper
You can buy an affordable paper making kit that contains everything you need. This is how I got started, and it does make things easier. The kit I linked here comes with a wooden frame with a screen (deckle), and that makes it very easy to make your pages square and dry them quickly.
If you don’t want to buy a kit, then you’ll need at least one deckle (each deckle can make one sheet at a time, and it does take a while). You can make one yourself by stapling a piece of screen to a wooden frame.
Unless you have bits of wood and screen laying around, or access to some very cheap, it may actually be more affordable to buy a kit. Or at least buy a set of deckles.
It’s pretty simple. Ready?
1. Shred some paper. This is a perfect way to use up any shredded paper you have. I don’t know about you, but I shred anything with my name and address on it that I’m not filing to prevent identity theft.
You can also use paper that’s too thick to shred, or cardboard. But both of these will need to soak in advance to start breaking down. Start that process at least a day in advance.
How much water? Start with a couple of cups and a big handful of shredded paper. If as you blend it, you notice it’s too thin, add more paper. If it seems too thick, add a little bit more water. Just a small amount at a time.
This is a trial and error process, depending on the texture of paper used. The basic rule of thumb is that you should only blend for 15 seconds before taking a look.
If you still have lots of big pieces of paper that haven’t blended, give it another 15 seconds. But remember: it doesn’t have to be perfectly blended.
Having some little chunks here and there can give it character. And how it looks as pulp is pretty much how it will look as finished paper, so if you think it looks cool, then it’s done.
3. Spoon the pulp into your deckle as thinly as possible without creating any holes. Smooth the pulp as much as possible to make it even.
Be sure to get the pulp spread all the way to the edges. You want all your sheets to be of uniform size even if the edges will always be unique and uneven.
Now is the time to add any decorations to it, such as pressing a dried leaf or flower petal into a corner.
4. Dry the paper initially as much as possible. Think of this like drying your hair after washing it. Press a towel against it, or press something porous like a second screen over it to squeeze out the water. A dry sponge can work well for this, too.
5. Now dry it thoroughly by leaving it out in the sun or blowing it dry with a hair dryer. You can also bake it in the oven, deckle and all, for a few minutes.
6. Once it’s thoroughly dry, you’re done. As soon as it’s completely dry, you can use it or write on it however you like.
7. Repeat the process to make more sheets of homemade paper.