It still quite amazing that with the data explosion introduced by the Internet and 24-hour news feed TV channels that traditional newspapers are still around to consume vast resources from the world’s tree populations. Admittedly, news printers do use a good amount of recycled paper pulp but it’s not enough. If you’ve been bitten by the recycling bug and you enjoy crafts one really great way to do your bit for the environment and to have some fun at the same time is knowing how to make your own paper from old newspapers.
Firstly gather your ingredients:
• Wire coat hangers
• Old pair of pantyhose
• Electric iron
• Food processor or blender
• Newspaper torn into 2” squares
• White glue
• Food coloring
• Large tub or bowl or sink
Find somewhere you don’t mind making a mess and you’re ready to go.
1. Make a Frame by Bending a Wire Coat Hanger into a Rectangular or Square Shape
2. Stretch One Leg of the Panty Hose over the Frame. Remember to Push It Back into Shape if Necessary. Make Sure It Lies Flat and Tight
3. Put Some Water and a Good Handful of Paper into the Processor and Blend on High until You’ve Got Mush. Keep Adding Both Water and Paper until You Have a Big Gray Blob. Keep Blending until You Can’t See Any Distinguishable Paper. Add Food Colouring or Other Dye and Blend on High for a Further 2 Minutes
4. Fill Your Tub with Water to a Depth of 4 Inches
5. Add 2 Tablespoons of White Glue to the Water and Add All the Pulp You Just Made
6. Using Your Hands Mix It Really Well
7. If It Seems Really Too Runny You’ll Need to Make and Add Some More Pulp but You’ll Probably Need to Make a Few Sheets before You Get the Hang of Achieving the Right Consistency
8. Scoop the Frame Right to the Bottom Depth of the Water then Lift It out Very Slowly
9. Make Sure You’ve Got as Even a Spread as Possible
10. Hold the Frame over the Sink for 1 Minute to Allow the Water to Drain
11. Hang the Frame on a Clothes Line to Dry or Leave It out in the Sun
12. When Completely Dry Gently Peel off the Paper
13. With the Iron on It’s Hottest Setting Smooth out the Paper
This is not a specific method and your first few goes will definitely be trial and error but it’s easy to get the hang of and you’ll soon be turning out beautiful sheets of hand made paper.
Once you’re a paper maker extraordinaire you can start experimenting.
• Any other paper can be used instead of newsprint but steer clear of glossy magazines as this just doesn’t give good results.
• For large sheets use an insect screen (as long as you’ve got a receptacle large enough for the water bath)
• Try natural dyes such as red onion skins and leaves instead of food coloring
• Add lots of food coloring for more vibrant colors
• Add textures. Before all the water is fully drained after straining, press items into the paper such natural items such as flower heads, petals, seeds or leaves. Try skeleton leave for a great effect. You’ll end up with beautiful works of art you can use for cards or gift wrap and other crafts.
Basically, just have fun and let those creative juices flow and feel good about your valuable contribution to ecological issues.