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Adventures in Homemade Paper

Nov
29

Homemade paper as a tag on candles:

And a wrap for soap:

If you’ve never tried creating your own homemade paper, let me introduce you to a new and addicting little craft that costs virtually nothing. (If you’re married, your spouse is gonna love this one!) I never even thought about making my own paper until CindyP posted in the Chickens in the Road forum about it. Even then, it was a while until I tried it. I’m making homemade soaps, candles, and body sprays this year for Christmas gifts so I decided to make homemade paper for the gift tags. Now that I’ve been making paper, I can see a thousand other applications for it. Homemade paper is so cool. It’s not only a truly beautiful and unique finishing touch to things like homemade soap and candles, it could be used in so many other ways. On canned jars of goodies. On baked goodies. In art and photo framing for mats. In collages, homemade cards, scrapbooking. Just to name a few. It could be incorporated into so many crafts. Any time where you might use paper in a craft, homemade paper is so much cuter.

This is also a craft where you can’t go wrong. However you do it, whatever works for you, is perfect. You can make it thick or thin. You can include any additional ingredients you want–or just make it plain. The texture, even in plain homemade paper, is the kind of “art” paper you’d pay big bucks for to get a few sheets. So make your own! It’s pretty much free–you can supply everything you need out of your whatever you have on hand.

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How to make Homemade Paper:

You will need:

assorted paper, clipped or shredded
boiling water
large bucket, tub, or pan
additives as desired
screen of some kind
dehydrator, oven, or microwave

First, I cut up three brown lunch sacks, four pieces of white copy paper, and a few paper napkins.

I was going for a result that would be a light color, so I brought in the white copy paper to tone down the brown of the lunch sacks. The napkins had a blue print on them, so that would bring in some random bits of blue. You can use any paper you want to use–colored paper, white paper, lunch sack paper, junk mail paper, napkins, etc. Whatever colors are in the paper will be incorporated into your final product.

You don’t have to cut the paper in super tiny pieces. If you have a shredder, that would be faster. If you have little people in your house, suck them into the project to do your cutting.

Either I’m making homemade paper or gerbil bedding.

(Note: I don’t have any gerbils.)

Boil a big pot of water. Transfer your paper clippings to a big bowl. Pour enough of the boiling water over the paper to cover it. Let it sit to soften the paper. It doesn’t take a long time–just about enough time for the water to cool down.

You can put in your additives now, or you can put them in later after you transfer the blended pulp to your bucket, tub, or pan. Additives can be anything you want them to be–bits of grass, flower petals, glitter, seeds, herbs, spices, small pieces of string, wool, anything! I used poppy seeds in the first batch I made, and crushed basil in the second batch. You can add a few drops of coloring, too. I used a few drops of green food dye in my crushed basil batch, but nothing in my poppy seed batch. (If there’s ink on the paper you use, it may also color your paper.)

Put the softened paper into a blender, adding some of the water.

You want a really watery mixture. I never filled the blender all the way up, just did it in parts. HOLD THE TOP of the blender! Blend the paper into a mushy, pulpy, watery mess.

Dump it into a big bucket or tub or pan, whatever you’re going to use to make the paper. You can put in additives now if you didn’t put them in before blending.

You need some kind of screen to form your paper. Ideas I’ve heard are to use a screen inside a picture frame or even a window screen (for large projects). I used a screen insert for my dehydrator. Ideally you’d want to be able to dunk the screen, flat, into the bucket, tub, or pan then pull it straight up with the pulp on top. (The holes in the screen let water out.) I didn’t have anything that big and I wasn’t making a very large batch so I just dipped my dehydrator screen insert across a pan through the pulp.


This worked so-so. Some of the pulp slid off, leaving bare spots, so after I put the screen on paper towels I just spooned more pulp on there to fill in those spaces and also used my hands to mush it around.

I put more paper towels on top and pressed it with the bottom of the big pot I used to boil the soaking water.

I pulled off the towels and did it again using dry towels. Twice was enough to get most of the water out, and the pressing with the bottom of the pot had made it fairly flat.

I put it in the dehydrator on 140-degrees and it was dry in about 45 minutes. You could also dry it in the oven or microwave. You can even air dry it (if you’re really patient).

It comes off the screen pretty easily–if it sticks, use a spatula to work the paper up.

Now for the fun part! Using it! You can cut it or tear it to make whatever you want. Sleeves for homemade soap. Labels or tags for candles and other crafts. Or in the thousands of other ways you can use homemade paper for that unique finishing touch. Hole punch it to insert twine, raffia, yarn, whatever to attach it to crafts. You can write directly on the paper, or use a small printed sticker on the tag. It doesn’t matter how you cut or tear the pieces–imperfect is perfect here.

Top, left, is a tag made from the batch made with poppy seeds. On the top right and bottom are tags from the batch made with crushed basil.

If you’re a crafter or for any other reason you need a large quantity of homemade paper, you’d definitely want to find a more efficient way to make it in bulk using a larger screen. For me, I just needed a small amount, so my dehydrator screen worked fine for me. I made two batches this weekend, and each batch made enough to go through the dehydrator twice (I just have one of those screen inserts), so altogether I made four sheets of homemade paper–enough for gift tags for me this year.

I was so excited. I showed my homemade paper to Morgan.

Morgan: “Whatever keeps you busy.”

Teenagers are so unsatisfying sometimes.

By the way, these are “Sugared Citrus” candles (Sugared Citrus is the name of the fragrance oil) that I made yesterday as a start on my holiday gift candles. I’ll put little printed stickers on the homemade tags to label the scent. I’m using a soy blend container wax here.

For more ideas about homemade paper, be sure to read the Chickens in the Road forum topic about homemade paper here. And thank you to CindyP for bringing us this idea!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on November 29, 2010  

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  1. 11-29
    1:34
    am

    BTW making homemade paper is great activity for home schoolers grades 3-5. It’s often part of the recycling topic in the science curriculum. If kids are in regular school, check w/ teacher to see if kids can earn extra credit for a show-and-tell on how to make paper. Kids might explain how to vary additives and/or scrap size to produce different papers. Just make sure they DO NOT pour the extra paper pulp down the drain!!!!!!!!!

  2. 11-29
    3:45
    am

    This looks like such a fun thing to make with all our useless junk mail….but my favorite part of your post was the ‘teenage’ comment, “whatever keeps you busy.” OMGoodness, that’s hysterical!

  3. 11-29
    4:42
    am

    I looove Morgan’s haircut. Very smart!

  4. 11-29
    6:03
    am

    I love Morgan’s haircut…. she looks so pretty!

  5. 11-29
    6:30
    am

    Morgan is *rocking* that new cut!
    This looks like a fun project to do with my kidlets.

  6. 11-29
    7:11
    am

    Pretty paper and even prettier young woman!!!! I love Morgan’s haircut!

  7. 11-29
    7:19
    am

    It looks great! I tried the paper from canned food (someone saved them for me) and that did not take on the color of the paper…it left specks of the color…which very cool, too! I added in crushed parsley and crushed red peppers for more Christmas-y flecks :)

    P.S. LOVE your hair, Morgan!

  8. 11-29
    8:27
    am

    My little girl and I have done this too! It was so much fun. We added wildflower seeds after the paper has been blended and the paper can be planted. It is great for greeting cards or gift tags at Christmas.

  9. 11-29
    8:49
    am

    Morgan is growing up. Enjoy them while you can. Soon you will have an empty nest, but, then they come home with the grandkids.

  10. 11-29
    8:57
    am

    I often throw in a sheet of construction paper when I want to add color. It disintigrates easily and a pack of it is pretty cheap. There are very nice kits available for around $35 that allow you to make a really nice piece of 5 x 7 paper. I’ve even used mine as stationary and envelopes!

  11. 11-29
    9:00
    am

    Wow! I had forgot all about this craft! I used to make gift tags with the flower seed in them. That way the tag was a gift too! Now, I gotta go make paper . . .

  12. 11-29
    9:04
    am

    I had some handmade paper — actually it was also computer printer-friendly! — that was Pepto Bismol pink with chili seeds in it. Pretty! I loved it. You may have given me the confidence to try making it for myself.

  13. 11-29
    9:04
    am

    Neat! Morgan is funny. Luv the new doo.

  14. 11-29
    9:09
    am

    I love making paper! I used ot have a paper making kit when I was kid that came with two screen pieces so you could flip it, Ive never thought of using anything but time to dry it out. great idea!

    Morgan’s hair cut looks awesome by the way

  15. 11-29
    9:19
    am

    This was a neat post. Makes me want to go get messy and see what I could create. Although any paper I’d make would most certainly be speckled with dog hair! Which in itself could be interesting…

  16. 11-29
    9:31
    am

    I Love making homemade paper. I have tons of supplies for it and I love all the add in for the paper. I use flowers and seeds and I could go on and on. I’ve been making homemade paper since I was in the 6th grade. My friends love to receive it. The only thing I like about paper making is that you don’t get dirty because there is lots of water.

    Cute haircut Morgan.

  17. 11-29
    10:22
    am

    Just wanted to say, LOVE the hair cut! She looks great!

  18. 11-29
    10:23
    am

    Beautiful haircut, Morgan.

    Claudia

  19. 11-29
    10:31
    am

    GREAT IDEA!!!!!!! Now I got a Christmas project to do with my 4 boys! WOOT!!!! :snowman:

  20. 11-29
    10:46
    am

    You make everything look so easy and so much fun! Thanks for the tutorial.

  21. 11-29
    11:05
    am

    Nice idea. And lots of great hints from all the readers! wow!

    My burning question is this: IS HOMEMADE TOILET PAPER NEXT????? 8-)

  22. 11-29
    11:51
    am

    Can you do scented paper with a perfume?

  23. 11-29
    11:53
    am

    Morgan, did you donate the rest of your beautiful locks?

  24. 11-29
    12:01
    pm

    I think you could add fragrance oil to it! I was thinking about that, too. I think you’d want to put it in right before you dip the screen into the pulp. I wouldn’t dry it at too high of a temperature, though, or it will cook the fragrance out. Be sure to check the flashpoint of the fragrance oil.

  25. 11-29
    12:18
    pm

    Love Morgan’s (new?) hair cut. Very grown up.

  26. 11-29
    2:00
    pm

    Thanks for this post, Suzanne, and of course, to CindyP. Now I know what I’m going to be doing this week!

  27. 11-29
    4:45
    pm

    Awww…Morgan’s new haircut makes her look so grown up!! Love it! Love the paper idea too!

  28. 11-29
    4:52
    pm

    I’d LOVE to be one of the recipients of your Christmas gift baskets! You should give one away to one of your readers like you do the BBB – that would be so cool (especially if I won!) :snoopy:

  29. 11-29
    5:55
    pm

    At last, a use for dryer lint! Especially from the red loads.

  30. 11-29
    9:13
    pm

    Suzanne, I usually recycle old paper for this project, rather than using fresh copy paper. Makes it even cheaper and more environmentally friendly. ALSO: I’ve burned out a couple of blender motors doing this. I never fill more than halfway, and you need a really generous water-to-paper ratio.

    I save my tail-ends of snipped threads in an old film canister to use as an additive.

  31. 11-30
    12:04
    am

    The paper is great. You can snips of cotton thread, old jeans, etc. Squeezed pulp can be put in molds for charms and embellishments.

  32. 11-30
    12:35
    am

    This is really so cool!!!! Beautiful and easy! I’m going to have to try this. Thick ones could make fun xmas decorations/ornaments too :)

  33. 11-30
    7:10
    am

    I love this idea. I’m thinking I may try my hand at this as I have all I would need except the screen, and that would be pretty easy to get. what I love most of all is Morgan’s haircut. WOW. it is so becoming and Morgan is looking so beautiful. I LOVE it!!! :yes:

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