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Papermaking Crafts

Truly unique handmade paper!

Papermaking Crafts

Truly unique handmade paper!

Handmade Paper
from Recycled Scraps

Make new paper from old
Examples of handmade paper
What you will make:

Here’s a fun and easy way to recycle those piles of paper spewed from your printer and have fun with the kids at the same time. With simple equipment and lots of water, you can turn that leftover paper into elegant handmade paper.

In this project, you will learn how to make paper by hand from recycled scraps of paper. Learn techniques that will give the best results at home, along with simple and inexpensive alternatives for children or beginners who just want to experiment. Regardless of equipment or technique, there are three basic steps in papermaking:

 • Prepare material (pulp)
 • Mold pulp into a sheet
 • Dry sheet

The resulting paper can be used as writing paper, to make elegant greeting cards, to make or line envelopes, to wrap gifts, to make gift bags, in collages and scrapbooking, or in any craft that can be enhanced by wonderfully textured paper.

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)
  • Formica boards for sheet drying (optional)

This project is rated AVERAGE to do. (Forming sheets is EASY.)

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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.

How to Make Handmade Paper from Scraps

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

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.

Papermaking requires an area where water can be splashed around. Find a place where you can lay your mold and deckle, plastic tub, and boards with felts side-by-side. Cover the work surface and floor with plastic as needed, and set up the equipment.

Setup work area for papermaking
Step 2: Prepare Paper Pulp
Use blender to make pulp slurry

Paper is made from a slurry of paper pulp. You will use the blender to break down the scrap paper into pulp fibers. Longer fibers will make stronger paper, so it is best to pre-soak the paper and blend it as little as possible. Children must be supervised when using the blender.

  • Tear your scraps of paper into 2" (5 cm) or smaller squares, and soak in water until they are very mushy. (You can do this while you are setting up, or overnight.)
  • Fill the blender 2/3 full of warm water and add a handful of paper. To make colored paper, add colored scraps. Blend in short bursts to make a fairly uniform slurry. If the blender strains, remove some paper or add a bit more water.
  • Pour the pulp slurry into the clean tub, and continue making pulp slurry until the tub is about half-full.
  • Add additional water to a depth of about 3/4 full, or 90% water and 10% pulp. The greater the pulp percentage, the heavier the paper.
Step 3: Making Paper

The sheet of paper will be formed on the paper mold and deckle by dipping them into the pulp slurry. It is important to develop a smooth motion in order to make sheets with a uniform thickness.

  • Stir the pulp slurry with the spoon until the mixture is uniform.
  • Place the deckle on top of the mold, screen side up. Hold them firmly together with your hands in the center on opposite sides.
  • Stand in front of the tub, and reach out your arms toward the back of the tub with the mold and deckle in a nearly vertical position. Dip the mold and deckle into the pulp slurry in a smooth motion, quickly changing the position to horizontal.
  • Slowly lift the mold and deckle out of the slurry, letting the water drain. When most of the water has drained, tip to one corner to finish the process.
  • Set the mold and deckle on a corner of the tub, and remove the deckle without disturbing the newly formed sheet. Set the deckle aside.
Make handmade paper
Step 4: Couching Sheet

Now we will transfer the wet sheet from the mold onto the felt (or paper towel). This is known as couching.

  • Place a felt on top of one of the pressing boards. (For beginners, place a paper towel on top of a stack of newspapers.)
  • Working quickly, place the long edge of the mold on the felt and flip over. (Beginners using paper towels: sponge the back of the mold several times to remove any excess water.)
  • Carefully lift one edge of the mold and lift the mold away. The newly formed sheet is now on the felt.
  • To make more sheets, simply place another felt on top and repeat the process. Top off your pile with a final felt and the other pressing board. (Beginners using paper towels should set the newly formed sheet on the paper towel aside, and not make a pile of sheets.)
  • Place the pile and pressing boards on a floor with a drain, or on concrete outside. Stand on top of the pile to press out as much water as possible. Move around to all areas of the board. (Beginners skip this step.)
Turn out paper onto felt
Step 5: Dry Paper

The paper can be board dried or air-dried. I prefer board-drying, as it produces a flatter sheet of paper and drying is quicker.

  • Board dry on a Formica-covered board (kitchen sink cut-outs work well). Place a felt, paper-side down, on the board, and go over the back of the felt with your hand or a large paintbrush. Carefully peel the felt off the paper, leaving it on the board. Leave the paper on the board until it is completely dry. Drying will take 4 or more hours depending on the humidity.
  • Air-dry by simply spreading the felts (or paper towels) on a flat surface to dry. Gently remove the paper from the felts when dry. It is best to leave the felts and paper to dry overnight.
Dry paper on a board or felt

Now, use your handmade paper in other crafts, in gift wrapping, or as elegant stationery.

That's it!  You have made your first handmade paper! Examples of handmade paper

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