Thursday, 12 March 2009

Making Paper

by Eilleen
Consumption Rebellion

I read Bad Human's post on making butter last month and I was struck by how the process seemed so simple!

I told a friend of mine of Bad Human's post and she tells me, "that's how I felt when you showed me how to make paper!". And it struck me that I *have* always thought that certain staples would be hard to make - and would require years of intensive study and lots of equipment to produce it. I think I tend to fall into this thinking for those products that I classify as "made by the shops". Sometimes it takes a post like Bad Human's to remind me that everything is made by people and that pretty much anything can be made by a person if they put their mind to it. For many tings, the fancy equipment only becomes a "need" if you are starting to mass produce or think that you need to do it faster (due to lack of time).

Anyway, I am digressing. I thought I'd show readers here how *I* make paper.

So here's what we did:

1. Grab all bits of scrap paper - you can use anything (newspaper, magazines etc etc) as long as its not metallic paper. Tear or cut into smaller bits and place into a mixture bowl. (This in itself is a fun activity for the kids).

2. Add enough water so all bits of paper is covered. Now shred using a bamix. (You can also use a food processor if you want to for this, but since we don't have one, we used a bamix instead). Keep shredding until paper has dissolved into pulp. Add more water if the mixture starts thickening - you want to keep it a watery mixture.

3. Pour pulp into a larger container (we used a medium-sized esky) and repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have at least 15cm (about 1/2 a foot) of water and pulp in the esky.

4. Using a frame with a screen, scoop the pulp.

5. Dry in the sun.

6. Once dry, gently prise new paper off with a knife.


Now it was our luck that I found the screenprinting frame in a 2nd hand shop but of course I only found one and I have 2 children. To save fights over who gets to use the frame, I also made one. Using tulle (found some in a 2nd hand shop) and an old picture frame. I stapled the tulle onto the picture frame.

Worked like a dream!

Some other ideas for your paper - before it dries, you can decorate it using fabric pieces, leaves/flowers, little metal bits, glitter - skies the limit. You can also pour food dye into the mixture for colouring.

Now, I know there are lots of techniques for making paper out there, and if you do have a different technique, I'd love to hear from you!


CM said...

Confused Canadian here!
Bamix?? Esky??

Thank heavens for Google!
Bamix = Immersion Blender
Esky = cooler (portable icebox one takes to a picnic)

I get it now! It is easy sounding. I'll have to gather the children and give it a go. I can immagine the 11 yo twins in alt over glitter paper LOL!

Ramona K said...

I´ve been an enthusiastic silent reader of this site for too long. Let me say how much I have enjoyed all the articles. I am compiling quite a list of new things to do.

Thank you for reminding me about papermaking. I tried this about 5 years ago and I am still using some of the sheets I made. It´s the ultimate way of recycling waste products. If I remember rightly you had to organize the drying process by having a pile of rags, old towels or dishcloths to hand. After carefully lifting the wet paper off the frame, you place it on a cloth surface to dry. Pile them up like pancakes with a cloth between each sheet. Let the pile stand for a few hours or overnight.
Our office had a paper shredder and it was no problem taking home a bag of the proceeds now and again. I was lucky enough to find lots of discarded colored paper at work too. The paper I made with this still comes into use for making unique gift cards. I tear the shapes rather than cut them and use a calligraphy pen for the text. Whatever your writing style it still looks good. I then make a hole in the corner and pop in a bit of raffia, linen thread or ribbon to tie round the gift. There are many more uses for your paper sheets of course.
Time to make some more and now I have grandchildren to share the fun with. Once again, thanks for the reminder.
Ramona K
Uppsala, Sweden

Eilleen said...

ooops CM! I'm sorry I forgot to speak "international" (hehe). Thank you for translating for me. I know a lot of people appreciate it!!

Ramona, those are great ideas! I especially like the idea of stacking them up!! I haven't done that - rather I've taken up the whole room as I dry out the sheets side by side.

brightandnew said...

Thanks for this, looking forward to having a go at paper making in the summer (when it will be easier to get the paper dry).

Thanks also to CM - saved me having to Google lol!!

cathy c said...

Very cool! can't wait to try it! What fun... and so green :)

Thanks!! Thanks too, CM for translations!

cathy c,
mid- west usa

Pat aka Posh said...

I never realized how wonderful my mother was until I grew up myself.. she taught me so many important things to help me live a fruitful life and one of them was that if someone else could make something then I could too... that knowledge has carried me through hard and good times.
I enjoyed your post

Kate in NJ said...

I am so excited to find your instructions on "screen" simple and easy to do (I cannot believe I never though of that!)makes doing this for our homeschool Earth Day celebration do-able! Thanks!!

Erin said...

I too had to look up bamix and esky, but the photos helped!
Thanks - it's a great idea, and really so simple!

Mistress B said...

I saw an idea for making a screen somewhere out of metal flyscreen taped to small gauge wire fencing

Definitely something on my 'to try' list

ellielaveer said...

my sister made paper for her wedding invitations. They mixed some grass into it to give it green flecks. They also put flower seeds into the paper to make it plantable.

I think it would be so fun to make stationary like this. Thanks.

Eilleen said...

oh putting in flower seeds to make it plantable is a FANTASTIC idea! That is so cool!

Oh and a metal flyscreen would work too! That way you can have larger sheets of paper.

Thanks for all your comments and sharing your ideas!

Hana said...

I remember we were making paper this way on a holiday camp, but we were boiling the mixture before we started putting it onto the frames...
Also, you can make paper-mache modelling paste this way, with less water I suppose, for which we also added some starch into the mixture.