Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Handmade Paper from Used Christmas Wrap

Note: I originally took a papermaking (pouring method) class at our local Conservation Department (free to Missouri residents). Check out Arnold Grummer’s website for more tips and ideas.

Supplies:
Used Christmas wrapping paper or other paper such as junk mailing paper or scraps of cardstock
Your hands or a paper shredder
Optional Inclusions: glitter, a pinch of tiny seeds [purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea); the Gray-headed Coneflower (ratibida pinnata); the Plains coreopsis (coreopsis tinctoria) and the Black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia hirta L.) for example], mica pigment powders, dried flower petals or leaves, snippets of embroidery floss, crayon shavings, etc.
Blender
3 cups of water per blender pitcher
dishtub or container to save water in
Kitchen Sponge/cotton sack toweling/felt couch sheets
Paper mold = Window-screen stapled to a wooden frame
Iron
Die-cutter/Embossing Folders

Directions:
1. To make the paper molding frames, saw a piece of 1 ½” x ½” wide wooden board into 8 (7 ½”) lengths. Nail 4 pieces into 1 rectangular frame using a hammer and 2 nails on each join, then cut out a piece of wire window screening to size and staple it to the bottom of one mold with a staple gun. (see photo). Then make another one with the remaining 4 pieces. Mark the one without the screen as the top as this piece will be removed later when your paper pulp is completely poured. 
 
2. Prepare frames for paper making by fastening the molding frames together with two large rubberbands at each end with the screen in-between.
 
3. Tear used paper in small bits (about the size of the end of your thumb from the first bend to tip) or run it through a paper shredder. If the Christmas paper has metallic pieces on it, you might have to shred the paper a little finer. Throw pieces into a cereal bowl or paper cup until you have about ½ ounce of paper (weigh bowl or cup first). Tip: 1 ½ or 2 copy-weight sized sheets of scrap paper + several tiny scraps of colored cardstock = 1 sheet of colored cardstock for this size of mold.
 
4. Place paper into blender pitcher without compressing and pour warm water over the paper until paper is covered (approximately three cups of water). Replace lid and blend on highest setting for 30 to 60 seconds until paper becomes pulpy looking. If you have off-white or grey paper pulp and want colored paper, throw in a few scraps of colored paper or cardstock (I save my cardstock bits in sandwich-sized zip bags by color.) Keep adding and blending until you get the color you want. Remember that your paper might dry lighter, so keep adding colored paper until it’s a slightly deeper shade than you want.
 
5. If you wish to at this time, add your inclusions to your pulp before you pour it out. Stir with a spoon to mix thoroughly.
 
6. Set the mold down into your dishtub and pour the blender water/pulp mixture through the screen into it, dumping the pulp as evenly as you can on the screen. I start pouring at the corners around the edges to the middle in a circular motion. Sponge bottom of screen dry and sponge top of paper until flat. Remove rubber bands from mold, lift off top frame and set it aside.
 
7. Supposedly, one is able to turn over the frame and peel the paper off the screen onto the couching sheet. I messed up the paper several times trying to do this and had to start over (glad I saved the water in the dishpan instead of letting it go down the sink). I found it helpful to use a kitchen spatula to lift up one end of my new paper to slowly peel it from the screen. At this point you may let the paper dry naturally on the couching sheet or carefully iron it. Be sure the iron is on the coolest setting and don’t leave it in one place too long as it may burn the paper. Do not iron seeds.
 
8. If the paper buckles as it dries, lightly spritz with a bit of water to relax the fibers on both sides, then press under a few heavy books or in a homemade book press.
 
9. To decorate: Try spritzing dried paper with inks and cut paper into shapes with a die-cutter to use as Christmas ornaments or gift tags. Punch a hole in one end and thread a strand of ribbon, gold cording or embroidery floss to paper as a hanger or tie. Or use embossed handmade paper on cards!

 
Postcript: I have a tip for making a new seal for your thrift store blender pitcher here.



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