How to Recycle Paper and Make Your Own Handmade Paper
Beautiful handmade papers can be purchased from arts and craft stores. These lovely papers make great additions to a wide variety of card making, scrapbooking, gift wrapping, and other paper craft projects. While traditional papermaking methods require special equipment, such as a press, there are alternatives. If you are just starting out, or want to make small amounts of handmade paper, it is easy to make paper at home using simple household supplies and waste paper that is turned into paper pulp.
Making Simple Handmade Paper at Home
Many papermakers use a mold and deckle to produce paper. This is perfect for producing large pieces of paper. It is possible to make smaller pieces of paper without this equipment and using only a plastic container lid or cookie cutter as a mold. Because you are not using a paper press, deckle, or other special equipment, the end result may be thicker, charmingly rustic, and less refined-looking than handmade paper produced using special equipment.
This process is ideal for making small pieces of paper. While the finished paper can be cut with scissors or a craft knife, making smaller pieces of paper with a finished size or shape result in textured edges.
Types of Paper Used to Make Paper Pulp
Many different types of paper can be used to make paper pulp at home. This includes newspaper (although the newsprint will give a gray look to the paper), uncoated junk mail, tissue, construction paper, or even clean toilet paper. Some types of cards and card stock can also be recycled this way. The inner rolls from toilet tissues, for instance, can create a textured effect in handmade paper.
Easily customize your handmade paper with additives, such as seeds, leaves, glitter, yarns, fibers, or a wide variety of other items you can mix in with the pulp. Handmade paper can also be colored with dyes, food colorants, or pieces of colored tissue paper. Create an impression in the wet paper pulp by using rubber stamps as another form of decoration.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Hand blender
- Multiple towels or cloths
- Mixing bowl
- Plastic container lid or large cookie cutter (use as a mold)
- Rubber stamp (optional)
- Piece of plastic sheet or parchment paper
- Additives (optional)
- Colorants (optional)
- Card stock (optional)
Prepare the Paper
The first stage in making paper pulp is preparing the paper. Here, we used a mix of paper tissues and the inner roll from toilet tissue rolls.
- Tear the paper and card into small pieces and put it in a mixing bowl.
- Cover the pieces with water and leave to soak.
Pulp the Paper With a Hand Blender
Use a hand blender to pulp the wet paper mix.
- Blend the paper pulp mix until all the pieces have been removed and there is a single mass of paper pulp.
- After the paper is thoroughly pulped, squeeze the pulp to remove some of the excess water.
Press the Paper Pulp Into the Mold
- Line the plastic container lid with a piece of plastic or parchment paper. This makes turning the paper out easier.
- Start to press the paper pulp into the mold or cookie cutter.
- Keep pressing the paper pulp firmly into the mold so it is evenly distributed.
This is a messy and wet process, therefore it is best to work on a well-protected work surface.
Press the Water Out of the Paper
- Use a towel to press firmly on the paper pulp to remove the water. The harder you press the more water will be removed and the firmer the end result.
- Tip the lid slightly to drain the water.
Turn the Paper Out from the Mold
- When the paper is firm and as much water as possible has been removed, turn the paper out onto a dry towel or cloth which has been placed on a flat surface.
- Use a dry towel to press more water from the paper.
- Place the paper in a warm and dry spot to fully dry.
Finishing the Paper
When the paper is thoroughly dried it can be cut and decorated as required. The surface of the handmade paper is rough and not completely flat, however, this helps to highlight the handmade nature of the paper and emphasize that no two pieces will be truly the same.