I work with cardstock and paper every day in my shop and I produce enormous amount of scrap paper. I've been saving it for some time, so I can recycle it into my own handmade paper.
Paper-making is simple and easy project but it needs some preparation before you can start, but a lot of that is optional. It is a great project to do with kids that will also teach them about recycling.
What you will need:
- mould and deckle - you can purchase a set online but it is really easy and less expensive to do it yourself. I made mine for about $5 out of two matching canvas frames - details in this post.
- blender / food processor - to make pulp out of the paper scraps
- medium size tub - about 5" longer and wider than your mould and deckle that you will be submerging in water. I used shallow plastic bin that fits my mould and deckle freely. don't get too large tub because you will have your paper pulp floating everywhere.
- dry paper towels or fabric or felt sheets - to separate and stack your wet papers.
- weights / heavy books - to press your newly made paper sheets
- sponge and rolling pin (optional)
- iron (optional - to quickly dry paper sheets, if you are impatient like me)
- scrap paper / any paper for recycling
- cotton linters (optional) you can order those online, mine came in the form of sheets but I've seen just google "cotton linters"
- pressed flowers, flower petals, dried leaves, skeleton leaves, spices, seeds, glitter, confetti (optional)
You can use about any paper for recycling but avoid waxed papers.
Tear your paper on small peaces (don't cut with scissors) and put in blender.
Cover with hot/warm water and blend for about half minute until it becomes like a pulp.
Ideas: you can add a second type or color paper towards the end of the blending to add little specks to your paper. At this point you could add any other ingredients such as seeds, glitter, confetti, etc. The pressed flowers, leaves, petals I add directly to the mould and deckle during the next step.
For a higher quality paper you can add cotton linters to your pulp. Cotton linters are long fibers that will increase the strength and durability of your paper sheets.
Fill the mould with pulp:
Fill your plastic tub with about 2"-3" of (warm) water or enough water to cover the screen of your mould and deckle set.
Secure the latches (if you have any) or hold firmly mould and deckle together and submerge it in the water (and keep it submerged). Slowly pour part of the pulp into the screen. Obviously, the more pulp you put the thicker the paper will be. I used about 1 cup of the pulp mixture for making one 6" x 8" sheet. That's not an exact formula though - it depends how watery is your pulp solution.
Use your fingers to create an uniform coating of the pulp over the screen. Keep the mould/deckle submerged at all times. If you lift it by mistake you will lose the consistency of the evenly distributed pulp. No problem if happens though, just submerge under water and tap down with your fingers on the screen. The pulp will mix with water again making uniform mixture.
Add your artistic touch with dried flower petals and leaves, glitter, confetti, dried lavender, or whatever your imagination comes up with. Once you are happy with the distribution of the pulp over the screen, carefully lift the mold (keep it horizontally while lifting out of water) and drain the excess water.
Lift the deckle and you will have a clean rectangle shape of the pulp over the screen. Your paper is not going to slide down so turn the mold sideways so it can drain for 5-10 seconds.
Remove the excess water:
Turn upside down and carefully lay over a piece of fabric or felt, or a paper towel piece, that is slightly larger than the paper size you are making. Don't remove the mold, yet.
Using a sponge start pressing down over the mold screen absorbing as much water as you can with the sponge.
Lift the mold slowly and it should separate from the paper easily if you have done good job with the sponge. If the paper stick sticks to the screen it means you need to dry it more with the sponge.
Place another layer of fabric or felt (or paper towel) on the top. If you have rolling pin use it to squeeze out any excess water left.
Dry the sheets:
I used paper towel sheets because they are cheap, easy to dry, and reusable. Replace the paper towel sheets on both sides and press the paper with some heavy books. When your second paper sheet is ready just add it on the top of the first one and replace the book stack on the top.
You can dry your paper towels and reuse them, changing them every day to avoid mold.
I was impatient and used an iron to dry the papers quickly. Because of the quick drying they curled very slightly but it is barely noticeable. Just iron right over the paper towel. If you have added dry petals and leaves make sure you set your iron setting to "low" so you don't burn the fragile flowers. Here are photos of some of the ready dried paper: