Dipping into Papermaking

Have you ever wanted to try making your own paper, but thought you needed fancy, expensive supplies? Making paper just for fun can be inexpensive and less daunting than one might think. Of course, one could invest in more expensive materials to make professional,  archival quality papers for various art forms. But for the novice, there is an easy, less expensive way. Using scraps of paper, a wood deckle mold, and a kitchen blender...POOF! You will have beautiful pieces of paper with those fancy deckle edges. Here’s how:

Making a Single Sheet

Materials:

  • kitchen blender
  • rectangular tub filled halfway with water
  • cheap plastic trays (to contain the water when sponging it off the paper sheet)
  • plastic cups (to separate your paper pulps, or holding your torn scraps)
  • scraps of paper, torn or shredded
  • sponges
  • paper towels/newspaper (to absorb water)
  • wood deckle mold (shown here, about $30. includes support grid, mesh screen, and white dry cloths). You can also make your own mold by repurposing a scrap of metal screen, and edging with duct tape.  I have had excellent results with this also.
  • the fun stuff:  dried botanicals, metallic sprinkles, scraps of embroidery floss for texture

Optional Materials:

  • cotton pulp (Not necessary, but does make the paper stronger when added to scrap paper.)
  • an iron, if you want the paper dry immediately
Blend a handful of cotton pulp or torn bits of paper with this much water.

Blend a handful of cotton pulp or torn bits of paper with this much water.

Steps:

  1. Blend a handful of cotton pulp and a handful of paper scraps in blender until the pieces just about disintegrate. 
  2. With the deckle mold already in place in the tub, pour the blender mixture into the tub of water. Lift the mold to drain.  The photo shows yellow paper pulp.
  3. Remove the mold and the support grid from underneath. Place the mesh over the wet paper sheet.
  4. Sponge off the water, gently.. Squeeze the water out of the sponge back into the tub, and repeat as many times as necessary, until yo have sponged off most of the water.
  5. Remove the screen, and place drying cloth, a sheet of paper, or heavy duty paper towel over your new sheet. Flip it over and repeat with press bar, if available, or the sponge.

The plastic trays help keep the water under control. If they fill up, just pour the water back into the tub, and continue.

The finished sheet. You can iron dry between two sheets of paper, or weigh it down with heavy objects. It will dry in a few days. Brown bag threads give this sheet a nice texture!

                                                                                                      Credit: Szylvia Revesz from Artist/Teacher Institute

                                                                                                      Credit: Szylvia Revesz from Artist/Teacher Institute

Other Ideas to Try

Recycled newspaper with colorful paper confetti. Before draining your sheet, toss in some shredded newspaper and paper confetti along with your newspaper pulp to achieve this look.

Recycle newspaper. Toss a handful of shredded newspaper into tub before draining sheet. 

Recycle newspaper. Toss a handful of shredded newspaper into tub before draining sheet. 

Place string over your first layer of paper so they hang over the sides.  Add a second layer of paper directly over it, and sponge off the water to seal the the two sheets together, with the string caught in between.  When dry, cut, fold, and assemble as you wish. Be creative! 

Decorative book: Layer two sheets, sandwiching string between sheets of wet pulp. Cut and assemble when dry.

Decorative book: Layer two sheets, sandwiching string between sheets of wet pulp. Cut and assemble when dry.

Nicoletta is a lifelong artist and art educator, with an M.A. in Art Education and Administration. She travels the world seeking cultural inspiration for her art, and has worked in fibers, acrylics, oils, and sculpture. Her current work is inspired by the reinvention of the mundane zipper, elevated to an art form into unexpected jewelry designs. Nicoletta’s artwork is shown throughout New York/New Jersey area and worldwide.

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