Handmade Recycled Paper

January 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have wanted to try to make handmade paper for a looong time and for some reason decided now was as good a time as any, so while we were up in Manchester I started collecting used brown parcel paper to use as my base. I like brown paper. This week I finally got round to tearing it all up! I’d link to the blog post that I took my original recipe idea from except it appears to not exist any more, but the gist of it was to keep the water you boil your rice up in to use in the paper mulch. Rice starch, I discovered, helps not particularly by glueing it together but by giving the paper fibres a coating which makes it easier to write on afterwards, instead of the ink bleeding into the paper. Which I like the idea of! I also liked the idea that I could use stuff I have in the house already, rather than buying any specialist bits – we have next to no money to spend on crafts (or anything really) at the moment so anything I can re-use or recycle or make do with is a bonus.

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So here’s how you do it.

First tear up your paper. Don’t use a paper shredder unless you want confetti-type bits in your finished paper: blenders don’t mulch it up very well. I think the smallest bits of mine were maybe a half-inch square. Ish. In my mix I had a lot of brown paper, some orange paper with gold glitter, some gold tissue paper, and some gold paper crowns from Christmas crackers!

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Tip it into a bowl. I roughly measured how much paper I had by stuffing it into a cup measure first. I had about a cupful of torn up paper. I added about 3 cups of hot water from the tap, gave it a good mix up, and left it. I should have really only left it overnight but life got in the way and it was left a couple of days until I got out a hand blender to mulch it up! It mulched up pretty well, my Bean thought it looked pretty nasty though 😉 I added about a half a cupful of my rice starch water and blended it in.

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I’d been umming and ahhing about how to actually make the paper. A lot of tutorials show how to make a mesh screen, to make sure it fits into a basin so you can “pan” your paper mulch into it to get it nice and smooth and even; but I wanted to make small individual bits. As it’s nearly Valentines day I thought I’d make heart shaped pieces so I am using a large heart shaped cookie cutter, and my mesh screen is the fine gauge part of my gardening sieve! It fits just nicely over one of my shallow trays, which will be useful for catching all the liquid as it’s squeezed out of the paper pulp.

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Dollop a large spoonful of paper pulp into the cookie cutter.

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Spread it out roughly with a smaller spoon.

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Take a piece of felt (or microfibre fleece, as that’s all I have around – and I do have a lot of it from chopped up blankets) and press it over the top, and start gently squashing the liquid out of the pulp.

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Gently remove the cutter and the fleece. This is how my heart looked after its first press!

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I took a second piece of fleece and gave the paper a second pressing.

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Then turned it over and eased it off the mesh.

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The paper got its third pressing by putting it between two more fresh pieces of fleece, using a rolling pin to squash yet more liquid out, and to flatten the paper a little more.

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I put my hearts on the radiator to dry out – be warned this makes them curl up!! I’ve had to flatten them out, separated by pieces of fleece, under a weighted down mat!

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Here they are in various stages of drying out. You can see the driest one is curling… I love the specks of gold in it. Once this is used up I’ll make another batch with a lot more reds and pinks in, and make smaller hearts to put in the middle 🙂

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Didn’t expect it to be so easy, or therapeutic, or enjoyable! Will be making a lot more handmade paper in the future I think 😀

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