Introduction: Blooming Recycled Paper Gift Bags
These easy to make and unique gift bags are great for wedding favors or to hold bird seed or rice to hurl at the happy couple (Don't worry about little bird stomachs exploding with rice, its an urban myth). And after they have done their job of holding whatever you decide to place in them, you can plant the paper in the ground and watch beautiful wildflowers grow.
Step 1: Supplies
All of the supplies and tools for this project were easily found around my house but you may need to purchase a few things.
2 Laundry Buckets or other large containers to hold water
Wild Flower Seeds
8- 2-1/2in Screws (preferably non rusting)
Step 2: Frames
You will need to make 2-6x9in frames (interior dimensions) using the furring strips. (This step can be skipped if you can find the correct sized picture frames.)
Predrill the long sides and attach everything together.
Cover both frames in duct tape starting on the edges works best. Please try to be neat as the frames fitting together snugly is very important.
Attach the screen to one of the frames using the staple gun. Pull the screen as taunt as possible and hammer the staples flat.
Cover the screen edging with more duct tape and you are ready to go.
The frame with the screen is called the mold and the other is called the deckle.
Step 3: Pulp
If you have a paper shredder than get it out and get to shredding, if not ripping the paper into smallish pieces with work fine.
I used a combination of junk mail and old computer manuals. I used a 5:1 ratio for deciding how much paper to use, five pieces of scrape paper to one final project. I did have a lot left over so this may be a bit of overkill.
Place all the shredded/ripped paper into your bucket or large container and cover with hot water. Let it sit for an hour or so.
Fill your blender about 1/4 of the way with the wet paper and the rest with water, blend, dump into the other bucket, repeat until all the paper is a pulpy mess.
Step 4: Making Paper
Now that you have your pulp and your frames its time to make your paper. First set up your area.
Lay down a large towel on the table or floor, this towel will get wet and water will get under it so if you are worried about your floor then double or triple up your towels.
Have an area to place your decorations (dragonflies and dots for me) and the other items you will need.
Mold and declkle
I tried quite a few different ways to add the seed to the paper, but it was my 2 year old son that finally perfected it for me when he dumped my entire box of seed right into the water. This led to very even distribution.
Face your mold so the mesh is facing up and place your deckle on top.
Swirl your hand into the pulp and slide your mold and deckle in the slurry.
Pull straight up until the water is even with the top of the deckle.
Gently move the frame back and forth to evenly distribute the pulp and remove from the water.
Let the water drain for a few minutes and remove the deckle.
Add your decorations and place the plastic bag over the pulp, press down to remove the excess water.
Carefully remove the bag and turn out the paper onto the towels.
Press down on the back of the screen to help with water removeal.
Slightly life one edge, flicking the screen to help unstick the paper.
Cover with a towel and weigh down with books.
Let dry overnight.
Step 5: Extra Pulp
If you do have any extra left over, you can save the excess by drying it.
Fold an old towel without any holes in half and sew up the edges forming a bag.
I used a larger mold and deckle placed over the kitchen sink.
Pour the pulp and water from your bucket into the frame until its filled with pulp.
Press as much water as you can out of it then grab it by the handful and squeeze more.
Place the pulp balls into the towel and repeat until all the pulp is gone.
Sew up the top edge and throw into your dryer.
When you are ready to make more paper just throw the dry bits into warm water and soak for a few hours. A quick run through the blender and you are ready to make more paper. I doubt the seed will survive this treatment so you will need to add more.
Step 6: Printing and Planting Instructions
I have including a printing template using Microsoft Word. Just replace what is written with your own special message to your guests.
You will also need to print out a set of planting instructions to place inside your gift bags. Read the instructions from your flower seeds and type them in the second included template.
Step 7: Sew
Its actually easier to do this step with the paper just slightly damp so the thick paper can bend and flex without ripping or creasing. But of course that will not work if you are printing on the paper. I got the idea for this sewing technique from the Minute Maid Fruit Juice Bars. They have a wonderful triangle shape that lets things be put inside and without crushing.
Start by folding your paper in half and sewing together one short edge and the long edge. I used a darker thread so you could see it better on the white paper.
Fill the pouch with birdseed or wedding favors, and add your planting instructions.
Pinch the seam together with the opposite side and sew along the edge to seal the pouch.
Trim the thread and you are finished.
Step 8: Planting Your Paper
After your bag has served its purpose, rip off the seams so it lays flat again. You can plant it as a rectangle or cut out a shape like I have.
Place it in your container or outside in your garden and cover with no more than 1/4 of an inch of soil. Depending on your chosen seeds you will need to water often and soon you will have your very own patch of wildflowers. I will upload pictures of the flowers as they grow.
Step 9: Share Your Work With Your Loved Ones.
This technique can be used with many different kinds of paper.
Wedding magazines have many beautiful pictures and most brides have plenty lying around.
You can use comics for children's parties and putting small candies or beans inside can make cheap and fun noise makers.