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How To Make Paper: Handmade Papers Make Excellent Artistic Gifts

Making paper can be very rewarding because you have control over the look and feel of the paper you make. If you are making beautiful little prayer books, you might choose to create thick speckled paper upon which to adhere your printed prayers.

If on the other hand you are creating special paper to write your own personal music upon, you might want very thin, off white parchment. You can create other kinds of textures by adding natural ingredients such as Bougainvillea petals, tea leaves and other natural fibers. If you intend to use the paper for drawing or painting make sure that you choose non bleached paper as your base material and don’t be tempted to use bleach to whiten your product.

Preparation

Select the appropriate pieces of paper that will create your ideal recycled look. Be careful at this stage as this is the foundation of the process. Newspaper will turn your paper a grayish color. Paper bark will turn it a beautiful tawny yellow. Tea leaves will make the paper speckled and rough, where as smooth copy paper will give you an even writing surface. So think about these aesthetic qualities before you begin.

The Process

  1. Once you have selected from the raw materials you have gathered, tear the material into tiny pieces. (The smaller the better.)
  2. Place the pieces that you have soaked over night into a blender. (About half full). Fill the blender with warm water. When you begin blending slowly and incrementally increase the speed from slow to high. Continue carefully until the mixture is well blended.
  3. Stretch wire gauze that would normally be used for window insect screening onto frames. If you have an old window screen that would work wonderfully.
  4. Half fill a basin that is larger than the frame with water and add the pulp, gradually stirring well as you go. The more pulp you use the thicker the paper.
  5. Add a small amount of liquid starch to act as sizing. This will seal the paper so that ink doesn’t soak into the paper fibers. 2 teaspoons of liquid starch is an approximate estimate of what should work well.
  6. The next part of the process is to be done very gently. Place the screen into the pulp and allowing it to flow over the surface. Gently wiggle the screen side-to-side until the pulp on top of the screen looks even. When you feel comfortable with how thick and even the mixture seems, slowly lift the screen out of the basin allowing excess water to drain away.
  7. Soak up excess water from the bottom of the screen with a sponge.
  8. Place an absorbent material such as felt on a flat surface and flip the screen paper-side-down on the cloth. Lift the screen gently, leaving behind the paper
  9. Cover the paper with another cloth or piece of felt, and squeeze out moisture using a rolling pin. Allow the paper sheets to dry overnight. A hair dryer might also make the process quicker.

When the paper is dry, pull the cloth gently from both ends, stretching it to loosen the paper from the cloth. Gently peel off the beautiful sheet of paper. You can now use this paper in a variety of craft, literacy and art projects. If you package the sheets in cellophane envelopes the paper can make a wonderful present.