Create your own paper in 10 simple steps

Instead of throwing away used paper, why not give it new life by creating your own homemade paper works of art? Follow these 10 simple steps for a fun and environmentally friendly project you can be proud of.

Create your own paper in 10 simple steps
  1. Soak pieces of paper overnight in a bucket of water. Fill a blender approximately 3/4 full of clean water, then add a handful of the soaked paper pieces. Blend for a few minutes until the mixture has a creamy texture.
  2. Test if the pulp is well beaten by putting a small amount of the mixture into a glass jar and shaking.­ The solution is ready if it is cloudy with no visible lumps of paper. Beat all the soaked pieces in the blender and leave the pulp in a bucket.
  3. Make a "couching" surface — a­ place for laying down newly made sheets. Lay a board (it should be slightly larger than the mould) on a table, then place a dampened piece of blanket over the board, and cover that with a damp piece of cloth or vylene.
  4. Place a small plastic basin next to the board, and fill it 2/3 full of clean water. Add two full jugs of pulp — add more if you want to make a thicker sheet. Mix well by hand. If desired, add cotton threads or other­ ­texture-enhancing materials.
  5. Grasp the mould and deckle with a hand on each of the two short sides and hold it vertically over the far side of the basin. In one continuous movement, lower it into the basin beneath the surface of the pulpy water, and scoop up towards you.
  6. Hold the mould and deckle horizontally above the surface, and shake it gently from side to side and from top to bottom — this will distribute the pulp more evenly. Allow the water to drain, then remove the deckle from the mould.
  7. Holding the mould in one hand, lay one long edge against the couching surface. Put the mould down from left to right with a rolling action, and lift it off the sheet from left to right. Lay another damp cloth over the newly made sheet.
  8. Make about 20 sheets, couching­ them one on top of the other, a damp cloth between each. Place a cloth over the last one, a damp blanket over that, and a board on top. Fix clamps to each side, tighten and tilt to allow water drain.
  9. After 10 minutes, remove the clamps and the top board and cloth. Lift off the underlying cloth and the first sheet. Place them carefully onto a drying surface­ — ideally a piece of clean glass — cloth side up. Roll the cloth surface with a paint roller.
  10. Gently remove the cloth; the paper will adhere to the drying surface.­ Repeat for the other sheets, then leave to dry for at least 24 hours, away from direct sunlight. When dry, peel the sheets off the drying surface and lay flat for two weeks to cure.

With a little effort and patience, you'll soon have your own stack of custom recycled paper. The unique thickness and character of homemade paper makes it a great choice for gift giving, if you can bear to part with it!

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