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Card made with double-sided (plied) paper
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Handmade Paper Plying

What you will make:

This project goes beyond the techniques introduced in Handmade Paper from Recycled Scraps and shows you how to use paper plying to create decorative effects on your handmade paper. Paper plying is the technique of making paper with two or more layers. The resulting two-sided paper can be used in all of your paper crafts. You can even create paper sculptures by making 2-ply paper with embedded wire.

Related craft: Make a Mold and Deckle, an essential tool for handmade papermaking.

Here's what you need:
  • Scraps of computer paper (later, you may want to recycle other types of paper—envelopes, junk mail, magazines, old gift wrap, etc.)
  • Lots of water
  • Bowl for soaking paper scraps
  • Blender or food processor
  • Large plastic dish tub or roasting pan, at least 11" by 13" (28 cm x 33 cm)
  • Felts or old wool blankets cut into 12" by 14" (30 cm by 35 cm) pieces (for beginners, paper towels and newspapers)
  • Large spoon for stirring
  • Two boards for pressing (rigid and water-resistant, about 13" by 15" (33 cm by 38 cm) (for beginners, a sponge)
  • Mold and deckle (buy or make; see instructions)
  • Light gauge wire (optional)
  • Formica boards for sheet drying (optional)

This project is rated AVERAGE to do.

How to Ply Handmade Paper

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Preparation

Before you start making paper, you will need to prepare your equipment and work area. Review the list above, and make sure you have everything needed to make paper. Follow the instructions in Handmade Paper from Recycled Scraps for setup and paper/pulp preparation. To make 2-ply paper, mix pulp slurries in two tubs—one tub with white and the other tub with another color.

Tip: If you have some dark scraps of paper, just a few pieces need to be added to a white slurry to make a nice pastel.

Setup work area for papermaking
Step 2: Simple Ply

A 2-ply sheet of paper with different colored sides is easy to make. First make and couch a base sheet in white, then make a sheet in another color and couch on top of the base sheet. Follow the instructions in Handmade Paper from Recycled Scraps for making paper, couching sheets, and drying.

Couch second layer of paper to make 2-ply paper
Step 3: Contrasting Border Ply
Handmade paper with plied border

Plying can be used to make a sheet of paper with a top, side or bottom border in a different color. First make and couch a base sheet in white. Dip part of the mold into another color—just 1" or 2" (2 to 4 cm) of the top or side or maybe a corner. Couch on top of the base sheet. Follow the instructions in Handmade Paper from Recycled Scraps for making paper, couching sheets, and drying.

Step 4: Embedding Wires
Embed wires between two layers of paper

Embedding a wire between two paper plies facilitates paper sculpting. Take four or five 6" to 8" (15 to 20 cm) pieces of light gauge wire and bend them into flower petal shapes. Press the wire loops with a heavy book so that they are flat.

Make and couch a base sheet of paper. Lay the wires on the base sheet with the ends extending beyond the edge of the sheet. Leave at least ¼" (.5 cm) between the wires. Couch another sheet on top of the wires and base sheet. Follow the instructions in Handmade Paper from Recycled Scraps for making paper, couching sheets, and drying.

Handmade paper flower

After the paper is dry, cut out the individual petals. Shape the petals and join them together with another wire to make a flower. The possibilities with this technique are limitless!

That's it! Now experiment some more with paper plying! Example card made with 2-ply handmade paper

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Paper flower made with embedded wires

Tip: Three-dimensional flowers and paper sculptures are easy to create from 2-ply paper with embedded wire.

Card made with 2-ply, double-sided paper

Tip: Make a Double-sided Paper Window Card using 2-ply handmade paper. See the tip in the tutorial for making a peephole card.

Project Extra: Templates

Templates for enclosure envelopes


This printable pattern includes envelope templates for gift enclosure cards in three sizes: 2¼", 2½" and 2¾". See the Mini-Envelope Pattern webpage for more details on making the card and envelope.

Example enclosure card and envelope made from handmade paper with a contrasting border

Tip: Make gift enclosure cards and matching envelopes from handmade paper with a contrasting border, and beautiful Square Petal Envelopes are an excellent use of 2-ply paper.

Example enclosure card and petal envelope made from 2-ply handmade paper


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