After cutting out the petals for my cherry blossom zine, I had lots of pink paper scraps left so I decided to make handmade paper at home using the a small deckle and mould that came with a greeting cards making kit.
On the web, it seemed lots of people are using a blender to make the pulp, but my friends warned me that wet paper can ruin the blades of your blender: they suggested I buy a second-hand blender just for the purpose of making paper.
However, as someone pointed out, people have been making paper for thousands of years (way before blenders were invented!), so I researched further and it seems there’s a way to make paper without a blender: you just have to soak it longer.
How to make paper at home without a blender
What you’ll need:
- scrap paper (construction paper, photocopy paer, newspaper, junk mail)
- small bucket or bowl to soak the paper
- decker and mould (you can create your own, or use the following alternatives: a tupperwear lid covered with plastic, or use two sieve to make round paper)
- shallow pan
- pieces of felt (or paper towels or absorbant fabric)
1. Take paper scraps (I used regular pink photocopy paper) and shred it in pieces of 3.5cm (1 inch) by hand. Don’t cut it with scissors, it won’t work as well. Yes, it takes a long time.
2. Put the scraps of paper in a small bucket. Fill the bucket with cold water (enough to cover the paper) and soak overnight.
The next day, you’ll find the paper is starting to break down, but there’s still big chunks in it.
3. Throughout the day, mix with your hands or use a whisk to break down the pulp more. (Somebody on YouTube was putting the mixture in a water bottle with marbles and shaking it to break the pulp).
When the pulp is soft and there are no big chunks left, you are ready to make paper. The finished mixture should have the consistency of oatmeal. (Because you are not using a blender, the mixture will be thick).
4. Pour some pulp in your mould. (My mixture was thick enough I could just transfer it by hand). Make sure to fill the corners and the surface evenly. At this stage, you can add sparkles or leaves or flowers to the paper surface for a nice effect.
5. Let the water drip.
6. Remove the deckle.
7. Prepare to transfer from your deckle onto a piece of felt or fabric.
8. Transfer the pulp from the mould to the felt or fabric.
9. Cover the pulp with another piece of felt. Press a sponge to remove excess water. (Some people on the internet are using the “press” method: place your paper covered in fabric between two pieces of wood and put heavy books on top. Let the water come out for about 30 minutes).
10. Remove the top felt.
11. Transfer the handmade paper on another piece of felt (or newspaper). Let it dry overnight (for thin paper) or two days (thick paper). Some people say you can put the paper between two sheets of felt and iron it dry – until it stops hissing – but that didn’t work for me.
12. After I let the paper dry overnight, this is what it looked like: the thin paper is already dry (you can see the dry sheets are pale pink), but the thick paper will take another day to dry.
You are ready to use your beautiful handmade paper!
All photos: Jessica Tremblay 2014