Thursday, April 5, 2012

How to Make Recycled Paper

So, here's what I ended up with after reading a few sites and a full day of trial and error (good thing it was so fun!)  I improvised in some areas with things i had around the house and didn't have to purchase a thing!

Things You'll Need:

A frame - I used old picture frames (without the glass and backings), but I've seen embroidery hoops,         disposable metal pie pans, once you figure out the process you'll come up with your preferred method and just use what you have around the house. What ever size or shape you want your finished paper to be. Have fun with it!

A Deckle (the bit that holds the slurry in) - use another of what ever you used for your frame, as close to the same size as possible

Screening - this is going to be stapled, duct taped, attached somehow, to the frame. just some old window screening is what i used, i also read you can use nylons stretched over your frame. I haven't tried this method, if you do let me know how it works out!

Blender - I used my food processor

Tub - dish tub type of container - should be deep enough to submerge your frame and deckle. OR you can do what i did and use a 13x9 baking dish and spoon the mixture onto the frame. The kids loved this part because they got to help with the spooning :o)

Sponge and/or LOTS of towels - for soaking extra water out of pulp

Paper to be recycled and water   - self explanatory, right?   ;O)

OK! To set up you need to wrap and attach your screening to whatever frame you chose. I stapled mine to an old picture frame. pull it nice and tight when you attach it, this is what gathers the pulp and forms it into the paper shape that you want. if using an embroidery hoop you just put the screening in between the hoops like material and tighten to hold it tight. metal pie pans (for round papers) you will cut out a hole in the bottom of the pan the size you want your finished paper to be and cover it nice and tight with your screen. I'm sure you get the idea we're going for here, so use what ever you have around that will give you that sieve type of contraption.

Now for your deckle you are going to want another just like the frame, minus the screening. easy peasy.

Now you can start!

first fill your blender about 1/2 way with warm water. If using a food processor fill to the liquid stop line. Then fill the rest of the way with scraps of paper. I have a shredder so I shredded most of my paper and used it that way. If you don't have access to one then ripping the paper into small-ish pieces is just as good. They just need to be a good size for the processor to break down.

Blend paper/water until you have a nice slurry. It should be like runny oatmeal. I made mine too thick the first couple times, all that happens is that you get thick paper. no biggie.  As you go along you'll get a feel for the thickness you prefer.

When it's a good consistency poor it into your container. Add more water to the container to achieve the desired result. As i said, mine wasn't as watery as it probably should have been at first, it was a little too chunky. Just add some plain water and stir it up!

Now to the messy part (i.e. the fun part!)

put your deckle on top of your screened frame, openings lined up. Submerge your frame into the watery slurry. In my 13x9 pan mine didn't submerge so i just held it down so it didn't float around and spooned the mixture onto the screen.  Gently shake the frame a bit in the water to level it out and pull it out.  The screen will be covered in pulp :o)  hold the frame over the container until the extra water stops dripping through the screen.

Now there were different ways i read to do this next part...I'm going to tell you what I ended up doing.

I was doing this at home, when I do it with my Daisy troop I'll have to alter slightly, but as i said earlier, you will find your best way once you get the idea.

I gathered just about every towel I have in the house and had the dryer running almost constantly, but remember, we did A LOT of paper.

you are going to remove the deckle and carefully flip the screen paper side down onto a towel. Use a big towel folded several times if you can, this step is where you extract as much water from the paper as you can.  Take another towel or a sponge and press on the screen to squish out and absorb as much water as possible.  once you have this done VERY carefully lift the screen and peel off the newly formed sheet of paper. (This is the one part my young children just couldn't do, not that they didn't try! lol)  Again, no biggie if the paper rips. just toss it back in the slurry, stir it up and try again!

When its off the screen it should be dry enough to gently pick up and move to wherever you are going to lay them to dry.   Now just leave them alone to dry out!   The thicker the pieces are the longer they will take to dry, obviously, so just keep checking on 'em. Over night at least, i think.

So that's that! Totally easy and fun for adults and kids. you can add a few scraps of construction paper to dye the slurry a color. We made pink paper (red bits of construction in with regular white), green and purple. Also we have purple with bits of yellow, it's really pretty! Have fun and experiment, let me know what you come up with! I'd love to see pictures of your finished product :o)

I wrote this from memory after a full day of paper making, so if I skipped a step or something just doesn't make sense, please ask!  I will do one more batch tomorrow so that I can add pictures to help explain. Until then, have fun!

 <3 Melissa
UPDATE 4/6/12  3PM:
Most of my pieces of paper are dried and have been flattened in books just  bit and are ready to be used! The thicker ones still have some wetness in the middles, I'll just let them be for awhile longer...  A couple of pics of my finished product!