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Adventures in Homemade Paper

Posted By Suzanne McMinn On November 29, 2010 @ 1:05 am In Paper Crafting,Primitive Crafts & Country Style | 33 Comments

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.

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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