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!