Paper MakingPaper Making

Well, it’s that time of the year again… the end of the school year is near, so it’s time to make stationary for my kids’ teachers, from the stack of papers that they’ve sent home from school.
Last year, the gift was a hit and the news went around the school. It ended up coming handy, when in the fall, I had to warn the new teacher about our special home paper requirements (reduce)…she already knew. Giving homemade paper, I hope also makes them think about paper consumption in our school.
In the middle of the stressful week, there is nothing better to relieve stress. Some like to jog, I like to make paper 😉
For those wanting to give it a try (and for those of you not familiar with the process), here is what to do. You can listen to my podcast interview on “More Hip than Hippie” while doing it 😉
– Tack window screening or mesh tight onto a frame (picture below, down) . You can also slide a used nylon sock over a smaller frame and knot is tight (picture below, up). The size of frames will pretty much be the size of your paper and they need to fit flat into your tub, so plan accordingly. I use two 3.5×5 frames (one with nylon and one without for neater edges) for small cards and postcards. I use an 8.5×11 for letters or envelopes.
 
 
 
 
 
– Line the table with felt squares:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
– In a tub (yes, mine is plastic… it serves for paper recycling, extra curbside pick-up, and paper-making), tear the papers in small pieces and fill with water (I like to let it sit overnight to give paper time to soften…),
-Using a hand-mixer or blender, blend the soaking paper into a pulp (this time, I ended up with a dark purple, which means a light purple finished product ) :
At this point you have the option of adding seeds (for “plantable” paper), lint from your dryer, dried flowers etc…
– For small cards with neat edges (which I will be demonstrating here), stack the 2 matching frames (nylon frame at the bottom), dip flat into the pulp, let drain a bit, and lift upper frame off gently:
– Remove the upper frame:
-Flip it onto a felt square:
 
-Absorb as much water as possible with a sponge (a remainder of our previous home car washing days…):
 
– and delicately remove the frame. The paper pulp should stick to the felt.
-Repeat:
– Line dry over your plants (the felt will drip on them and no water will be wasted 😉
– When dry, peel off and iron as needed:
– et VOILA!
Now, all I need to do is to make matching envelopes (with the larger mesh frame, and an envelope stencil to cut the dry sheets) and then “gift-tag” and tie the whole thing with compostable string. I think the teachers will be quite pleased.
Note: When you’re done (pulp too thin to make paper), you can compost the leftovers.
I am afraid to ask… what did you think of the podcast?

Well, it’s that time of the year again… the end of the school year is near, so it’s time to make stationary for my kids’ teachers, from the stack of papers that they’ve sent home from school.
Last year, the gift was a hit and the news went around the school. It ended up coming handy, when in the fall, I had to warn the new teacher about our special home paper requirements (reduce)…she already knew. Giving homemade paper, I hope also makes them think about paper consumption in our school.
In the middle of the stressful week, there is nothing better to relieve stress. Some like to jog, I like to make paper 😉
For those wanting to give it a try (and for those of you not familiar with the process), here is what to do. You can listen to my podcast interview on “More Hip than Hippie” while doing it 😉
– Tack window screening or mesh tight onto a frame (picture below, down) . You can also slide a used nylon sock over a smaller frame and knot is tight (picture below, up). The size of frames will pretty much be the size of your paper and they need to fit flat into your tub, so plan accordingly. I use two 3.5×5 frames (one with nylon and one without for neater edges) for small cards and postcards. I use an 8.5×11 for letters or envelopes.
 
 
 
 
 
– Line the table with felt squares:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
– In a tub (yes, mine is plastic… it serves for paper recycling, extra curbside pick-up, and paper-making), tear the papers in small pieces and fill with water (I like to let it sit overnight to give paper time to soften…),
-Using a hand-mixer or blender, blend the soaking paper into a pulp (this time, I ended up with a dark purple, which means a light purple finished product ) :
At this point you have the option of adding seeds (for “plantable” paper), lint from your dryer, dried flowers etc…
– For small cards with neat edges (which I will be demonstrating here), stack the 2 matching frames (nylon frame at the bottom), dip flat into the pulp, let drain a bit, and lift upper frame off gently:
– Remove the upper frame:
-Flip it onto a felt square:
 
-Absorb as much water as possible with a sponge (a remainder of our previous home car washing days…):
 
– and delicately remove the frame. The paper pulp should stick to the felt.
-Repeat:
– Line dry over your plants (the felt will drip on them and no water will be wasted 😉
– When dry, peel off and iron as needed:
– et VOILA!
Now, all I need to do is to make matching envelopes (with the larger mesh frame, and an envelope stencil to cut the dry sheets) and then “gift-tag” and tie the whole thing with compostable string. I think the teachers will be quite pleased.
Note: When you’re done (pulp too thin to make paper), you can compost the leftovers.
I am afraid to ask… what did you think of the podcast?
  1. Boud says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 2:07 am (#)

    This is great fun to do, and a nice way of recycling unwanted paper. But it is NOT papermaking! it's recycling, very creditable and honorable thing to do, but papermaking is very different. Trust me on this, I'm a papermaker! that requires original pulp, plant material, and various other source materials, all Ph perfect, no acid, all kind to the environment. You are recycling and I honor you for doing it, I do it myself. But the acid content alone in your output means that this is not original paper.

    So, how about naming it correctly, and I will send you tons of people to applaud and learn how.

    Boud

  2. Bea Johnson says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 3:24 am (#)

    Thanks for the comments and for correcting me on the use of the terminology. It seems to be a common misconception (e.g., If I google "paper making" and "paper recycling", then I see definitions for those terms that are consistent with my misuse). Question for you: Should I call this "'Recycled Paper' Making" or "Making Paper with Recycled Content".

  3. Anonymous says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 3:38 am (#)

    I am a listener to MORE HIP THAN HIPPIE and just listened to your interview. Great! Lots of useful information.

  4. historicstitcher says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 12:06 pm (#)

    What a wonderful gift! I'm going to do this with my son's papers next year! (But first ask for a reduction in what's sent home – we already do get a lot of "paper" via email).

    Thank you!

  5. Anonymous says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 12:25 pm (#)

    loved the podcast!! I'm a fan!

  6. Want Less says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 4:13 pm (#)

    I thought the podcast was excellent. I'm also now excited about trying to make paper 🙂

  7. Jo says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 6:16 pm (#)

    Thank you so much for posting this process – it's one of the things I was going to ask you to blog about! This is a fantastic way of dealing with all the papers that come home from school at the end of the year.
    Your podcast was really good listening but I much prefer chocolate to your favourite treat!
    I was in Paris last week and noticed a brand of makeup in Monoprix called Elysambre that has refills. Thought you might be interested even though it's not zero waste.

  8. Anonymous says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 8:04 pm (#)

    I have done this many times and the receivers have always been pleased. Sometimes I press flowers into the wet paper, then remove. It's a nice touch to any paper, but one with matching seeds inside is especially nice.

    I make firestarters (mini logs) for our wood burner in a similar manner. I mix small sticks, dried leaves (etc.) in the pulp then wrap a blob in a sheet of newspaper, dry, stack and save for winter.

  9. LifeAdorned says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 9:30 pm (#)

    great! i'm going to try this.

    i've been a "more hip" listener for a while and i enjoyed your episode. i'm glad it directed me to your site, too!

  10. Anonymous says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 9:30 pm (#)

    I just listened to the podcast – i liked it. i always wondered what you sounded like – now i know! i like to ready this blog – it is inspiration to limit the amount of trash i have in the house.

  11. Anonymous says:

    June 9th, 2010 at 9:55 pm (#)

    Bea, your paper project sounds delightful. As for Boud, was that really necessary?

  12. Anonymous says:

    June 10th, 2010 at 3:56 pm (#)

    I knew I was saving all of those school newsletters for a reason. Thanks for the great idea!

    Keep up the great work, I love reading your blog. Your lifestyle is extreme (compared to the average American), which is exactly what is needed to set an example for the rest of us. You are an inspiration, thank you!

    Rosalie in SebTown

  13. Erin says:

    June 10th, 2010 at 5:33 pm (#)

    I love this! I came over from Holly (504 Main)'s blog. I'm a green gal to be sure, but I'm nowhere near this green. I applaud your efforts and you inspire me! Maybe sometime soon I'll be brave enough to try. Thank you so much for sharing this and I'm so glad I came by. I'm your newest follower!

  14. bec greenshields says:

    June 10th, 2010 at 8:05 pm (#)

    hi guys

    just found your blog and must say, it's great to see your passion for our friend, mother earth, and for wanting to help preserve her! your catch cry 'refuse, refuse, refuse etc…' is wonderful! totally agree with you there!

    we have an eco hostel in beautiful baños, ecuador. i have been making recycled paper and would eventually like to set up a community owned paper recycling business. one big question: how do you get the paper flat? i've tried ironing it (after hanging it up to dry) but with no luck. it always ends up bumpy and unwritable. i was thinking of trying to find an old clothes wringer (perhaps not tight enough), or a steam press. any thoughts!?

    keep up the great work!

    chao for now
    rebecca

  15. marinade says:

    June 10th, 2010 at 8:26 pm (#)

    Just yesterday I made paper with the children I lead in an after school program! How fun! They really loved this activity. I love the idea of using the felt to dry the paper on, I will have to try that at home myself! Thanks for the tutorial!

  16. Bea Johnson says:

    June 10th, 2010 at 9:18 pm (#)

    Hi Rebecca: I find that ironing the paper when it is still a bit moist will get it the flatest. And I find that a ballpoint pen works best on homemade paper…

  17. Anonymous says:

    June 11th, 2010 at 3:58 pm (#)

    I make my paper flat by drying it on cookie sheets. The do stick, but a careful hand and a spatula work well. The edges of the paper are not squaed, but that makes them even more handmade looking. Or you can just cut them.

  18. Penniless Parenting says:

    June 12th, 2010 at 8:21 pm (#)

    Thanks for this post. I followed the link from frugalbabe- I was the one looking for ideas of what to do with all my old wedding invites. I think I'm going to try this out! I like your blog- I also try to achieve zero waste, even if my reasons are a bit different (money vs the environment).

  19. Naturalearthfarm says:

    June 13th, 2010 at 11:23 am (#)

    What a great idea! Thank you for reminding me about paper making.
    warm wishes, Tonya

  20. sam spade says:

    June 14th, 2010 at 11:06 pm (#)

    you are so amazing and a true inspiration. i can't tell you enough how much your blog has helped me reconsider my wasteful ways (and i'm even better at reducing my waste/reusing things and even recycling than most of the people i know, which is frightening!) and learn alternatives. seriously. you are my role model. thanks for this great blog!

  21. Anonymous says:

    June 17th, 2010 at 7:22 pm (#)

    Where's your blog for the week 🙁 been looking forward to reading it…are you completely changing to Twitter? I don't do Twitter and I'm missing your weekly blog. I so look forward to reading it.

  22. Julia says:

    June 17th, 2010 at 8:43 pm (#)

    Just listened to you on More Hip Than Hippie! I had been looking forward to that episode ever since they announced that you would be interviewed. Thanks for all the inspiration. I've been working towards reducing our waste for quite some time and now I have even more ideas! Tonight when we go out for dinner (a treat from my dad!) I'm going to take my own containers in the event that there are leftovers.
    I look forward to reading your blog in the future.
    Thanks!

  23. Molly de Vries says:

    June 23rd, 2010 at 7:33 am (#)

    Bea,
    The pod cast was so much fun. You were naturally funny and inspiring. I think your own pod cast would be amazing. You have a very sweet way about you. I met you at park school on earth day this year, I was apart of the earth day panel. Sustainable textiles and furoshiki is my business. So if you ever need great reclaimed and vintage furoshiki fabric for gifts, let me know. I also started this challenge on earth day to remove disposables from my life. I feel like I have more of a difficult time than you, because I am organizationally challenged. I just keep moving forward. We are neighbors and of the same path. Maybe i will start shopping at WF on Thursdays and they can hit two birds with one stone. Thank you for your simple tips. Happy summer

  24. Anonymous says:

    March 26th, 2011 at 12:19 am (#)

    Wow. What a great way to use all of my old schoolwork. I am a senior in high school and I am always amazed and sad at how much paper I use.

  25. Anonymous says:

    April 22nd, 2011 at 5:54 pm (#)

    Great idea! I am planning on making these as teacher gifts for the end of the school year. Can you show us how to make the envelopes? I am assuming that the paper is not all that pliable and so am wondering if the sheets will just break when folding. Thanks!

  26. Lazaro says:

    April 29th, 2011 at 9:24 am (#)

    Good idea for giving homemade paper to student. It will increase and improve the creativity of students. Thanks for giving tips on paper making so that student can easily make paper.

  27. Anonymous says:

    May 28th, 2011 at 8:36 pm (#)

    What a great idea for an end of the school project. It is sort of full circle by giving your school papers back to your teachers. I never know what to do with my school paper. One year, my friends and I had a celebratory bonfire but that releases greenhouse gases:(

  28. Sylvia Poareo says:

    June 3rd, 2011 at 8:11 pm (#)

    Inspired by your blog, I have been teaching a unit in my son's class on "Protecting the Earth" introducing many zero waste concepts. Today we make paper! Thank you for all the inspiration and for this very thorough illustration of paper recycling!

  29. Emil says:

    August 12th, 2011 at 3:37 am (#)

    I was fail in absorbing the water from the pulp. I think I have pressed the sponge well. I could understand why I could note free the pulp from the water. somebody has advice for me?

  30. Bea Johnson says:

    August 17th, 2011 at 12:40 am (#)

    Emil: your problem could come from 3 issues:
    -not letting the pulp strain a bit before you flip it onto felt
    -not using felt or some other absorbing material on your table to flip the pulp onto
    -not using an absorbent enough sponge (for ex: mine is huge and absorbs a great deal of liquid at once)

  31. Susan d says:

    September 4th, 2011 at 7:17 pm (#)

    Hi Bea:
    Thanks for the link to More Hip. I enjoyed your pod cast as well as many of their other articles.

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