Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Guest Post: Making Paper

I constantly find myself in awe of the wonderfully talented people I encounter daily - especially here in the land of blogging.  I share links to some of the fabulous projects I come across each weekend in my Week in Review posts, and now on (most) Wednesday's... at least for a awhile... I'm going to be going a step further and inviting one of those creative folks to guest blog here at Ready, Set, Craft! 

Today I'm thrilled to welcome one of my favorite bloggy peeps (and my Cupkins collaborator), Meg of Mega•Crafty
.  Meg always has such great ideas, eco-friendly tips, and new crafting adventures to share.  Be sure to head over to her place and check out her blog after this tutorial!

Making your own paper using recycled paper is fun and easier than you might think!

I first made paper back when I taught museum programs for kids. But it’s not just a great project for kids. I’ve enjoyed making paper for my own cards and crafts over the years.
Here’s what you’ll need:
A cheap wooden picture frame (You can find frames at almost any dollar store or discount chain, I think I paid a dollar each for mine).  Any size you like is suitable but 8x10 or 11x14 are the easiest work with.
Roll of fiberglasss window screen. You don’t need anything fancy. Mine was inexpensive (6 dollars at a home improvement store) and there is enough to make more paper frames than I’ll ever need.
Staple gun
¼ inch staples (or the smallest that will fit into your staple gun)
An old blender
A plastic container that’s larger than your frame
2 more containers for holding scraps of paper and water
A cup (to our water into the blender)
Various papers that are ready to be recycled
Felt Sheets (At least dozen is good- you’ll need about two per sheet of paper you want to make)
Newspaper and some hand towels or paper towels
Dry sponge
Duct Tape (Optional)

First you’ll have to make a paper frame. Remove the glass and cardboard backing form your frame- you’ll only need the wooden part.

Cut a square of screen that fits over your frame.
Lay the screen over the front side of the frame and staple once to hold it in place.

Pull the screen on the opposite end of the frame so it’s tight and staple in place.

Work you way around the screen, pulling the screen tight over the frame and stapling it into place.

 Cut the excess edges of the screen off.

If you want you can use duct tape to cover the staples and ragged edges of the screen. (I didn’t but it’s probably a good idea if you are going to do this project with kids).
Once you have the paper frame made you’re ready to get going.
Start by ripping paper into small pieces. I like to rip paper in big bunches at a time so I wind up with a container full of paper bits that I can grab anytime I need to make more paper pulp.

Mostly I’ve used white and cream colored printer and notebook paper so I get a white/off white pulp that can be left white or colored if I want (by adding bits of colored tissue paper into the blender with the white paper). But you can use colored paper if you like.
Note: You can also use paper from your shredder but you’ll end up with a confetti paper texture. The blender doesn’t chop of those small shreds very well.
Place a few handfuls paper into the blender.

Use an old blender that won’t be used for food anymore. Once you’ve blended the paper you’ll want this to be a “craft blender” form now on.
I don’t fill the entire pitcher- this is just asking to burn out the blender!
Add about twice as much water than you’ve got paper and blend on high about 15 seconds until you get a fairly smooth looking pulp. (the occasional pulse also helps to break up any large clumps).

Pour the pulp into your large container.

(There is about 3 batches in here.)

Now add enough water so you are able to dip the screen into the paper slurry.
It’s time to dip the screen into the slurry.  It should go in staple side down.

Dip your frame in like your digging or shoveling (tilting front end in first followed by the back) so that you get a slight scooping action. If you’re doing this project with kids- younger ones usually need help dipping to avoid the screen plopping in straight down.
The key here is to get the water to sort of flow over your screen evenly. The water will go through the holes in the screen but the little bits of paper suspended in it will get stuck.
You’ll get this nice pretty screen of sopping wet paper pulp.

Let the screen drain over the container for a minute. While it’s draining now is a good time to remove excess clumps from the edges of the screen and frame.

Now it’s all about removing the water!
Grabbing a piece of felt lightly press it over the pulp to remove some of the water

Remove that sheet and place another over the frame. Flip the frame over onto a stack of newspaper and paper towels or a tea towel.
Use a sponge to press out more of the water from the screen side. You can squeeze the sponge out in the container of paper slurry.

Now flick the screen with your finger to help the paper release (this is most little kids favorite part).

Once you remove the frame you can let your paper dry overnight on the felt.
You’ll end up with a lovely handmade sheet of paper!


LollyChops said...

This is seriously the best tutorial I have ever seen for making paper! I love how you give tips and detailed photos along every step of the way!!!!!

I really want to try this someday!

Maiden Jane said...

Great tutorial! I would like to try doing this again. Last time my husband and son tried to make paper they broke the blender!!!

Meg@MegaCrafty said...

Thanks so much Lolly that's really sweet. I have a few more tips up on my blog today if you're interested.

Jane- it's true you can burn out a blender... i've gone thru a few when I was doing this as a workshop. Usually though if you keep the paper batches small and have enough water you'll be o.k.

Tracey said...

Great tutorial! Do you need to let the paper bits sit a while in water before you blend?

Meg@MegaCrafty said...

Good question Tracey! No you don't need to let the paper bits soakl. Just toss them in add the water and start blending. As long as you've got enough water the blender should do a good job making a "paper smoothie"