Introduction: Homemade Paper

Picture of Homemade Paper

I've been rocking my handmade paper out newspaper and other types of "recyclable" papers, but I found that already recycled paper (post-consumer) is the best for achieving durable yet flexible handmade paper.

Where to find this awesome material? Grocery stores.

One use for the material is creating small pallets for produce, like apples. It keeps the individual fruits/vegetables from bouncing around ontop or into one another during transport. Kind of like how an egg carton secures the eggs but isn't completely stiff and rigid.

Check more paper at my Etsy store:

Step 1: Gather Your Tools.

Picture of Gather Your Tools.

To be as green as possible, I cut out a few things used in other paper making instructables.

You will only need the mold/deckle, a household sponge, one "apple pallet", a mixing spatula, and a blender.

The mold/deckle can be created using old picture frames or even just scrap wood you have lying around. To create my deckle, I used a screenprinting frame by removing the silkscreen and replacing it with a nylon-type mesh used for screen-windows. The mesh is relatively cheap and durable. For the mold, I used an old picture frame.

Any household sponge will work.

Any grocery store should have some of these "produce pallet/carton" things lying around somewhere. To save gas and time, you may want to call ahead.

If you cook/bake, you probably already have a mixing spatula in a drawer somewhere. But a word to the wise, once you use it for paper-making, buy a new one for cooking.

As for the blender, once you use it for paper-making it's not a good idea to use it for making anything else. So if you use your blender a lot for cooking, juicing, or whatever, maybe purchasing another one at a thrift store or a yard sale would be good.

Step 2: Preparing the Material.

Picture of Preparing the Material.

Tear up the apple carton into small pieces. The smaller the better.

Put the pieces into the blender.

Fill the blender with at least 2x as much water as pieces. Too much water is better than too little.

Step 3: Blend the Water and Material.

Picture of Blend the Water and Material.

Place the blending pitcher on the base and turn the blender on.

I use 2-3 different settings just to make sure the material breaks down well. Depending on how much material and water you have put together, starting out with a "chop" setting or "puree" might be best. Then use the "liquify" setting for about 30 seconds to finish the job.

The material and water mix should have the consistency of a thick soup.

Step 4: Set Up Your Mold and Deckle.

Picture of Set Up Your Mold and Deckle.

This is where I cut out some of the tools needed to make this process a bit greener than the usual DIY recycling paper process.

Instead of pouring your material/water mixture into a plastic tub, set the deckle directly over a sink. It makes clean up a lot faster as well!

Once the deckle is set and level over the sink, place the mold ontop. Make sure the mold is set as straight and parallel to the deckle's sides as possible.

Step 5: Pour Your Mixture.

Picture of Pour Your Mixture.

Pour your mixture directly onto the deckle, keeping it within the mold's edges. Make sure you pour the mixture as evenly as possible.

When the mold is pretty well filled, use the spatula to smooth out lumps. Be careful not to use too much pressure when smoothing the mixture b/c the moisture will drain too fast and create lumps, which are no fun to work with!

Remove the mold when you are satisfied with the evenness of your mixture. Don't sweat it if the mixture isn't perfectly even.

*If the mixture is too lumpy for your liking, just scrap it right back into the blender, add more water, and blend it a bit more.

Step 6: Press Out the Moisture.

Picture of Press Out the Moisture.

It's best to have a second deckle for this step but it can be done using a piece of felt.

Using a second deckle, place it on top of the mixture, so that both deckles are flat against one another.

*If you use a piece of felt, place the felt ontop of the mixture as well, and follow the next steps.

Press your sponge down with gentle force. You will hear the water draining from the mixture as you apply force. Make sure you spot-press the sponge and don't drag it across the mesh. Dragging the sponge will pull the mixture through the mesh!

When you no longer hear the water draining from the mixture it's ready to start drying.

Step 7: Setting Up to Dry.

Picture of Setting Up to Dry.

I found the fastest, and best, way to dry a newly recycled sheet of paper is to place it flat between 2 pieces of nylon mesh, preferably with the top piece having weight around its edges so the sheet dries flat.

Basically, place a scrap piece of the nylon mesh over the top of the newly recycled sheet, which is still on the deckle, flip the entire set-up over so the deckle is now ontop and the scrap piece of nylon mesh is on bottom. Be careful to keep the scrap piece of nylon mesh tight when flipping or the sheet will fall apart.

I used a craft box to place the set-up on so the deckle's frame can weight down the edges of the sheet.

*If you used felt in a previous step, follow these same steps only replace the scrap piece of nylon mesh with the felt.

Step 8: Finished Products.

Picture of Finished Products.

Once you feel comfortable with the paper-making process, you can start experimenting with different colors of paper, etc.

Adding a water-based paint can turn a dull mixture into a colorful piece of paper!

Here's some of the sheets I've created in past attempts. I have a few sheets for sale in my online store--->


noahw (author)2009-03-13

This is a great Instructable, but you need to add a main image of the final project to the intro step. Please do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks!

Starrystar (author)2009-03-28

With my weak apartment sink disposal, I'd be a little afraid to put paper pulp down there. It's a nice idea, though.

thickneckarts (author)Starrystar2009-03-28

We don't even have a disposal.

June301 (author)thickneckarts2016-09-25

oh gosh lol

you can drain it over a tubberware and throw it in the garbage thats wat i did

lukeyj15 (author)Starrystar2010-03-22

 if it'll eat apple cores, it'll eat paper

GeekTinker (author)Starrystar2009-07-02

You could always add the paper pulp to your compost. If you don't compost, then it shouldn't hurt to dump it directly into your landscaping, changing the location each time.

RafałH (author)2016-07-05

I did a handmade paper in the house. I must say that even comes out very cool these methods. It's easy just need to do them well. Meuse add to them a little gruel for wood to make it more durable. It can be done in several ways - I did this unusual recommend the latter. Thanks for the nice post.

amaanfrd (author)2016-03-04

what other materials can i use

Simran Sharma (author)2016-01-16

Wow nice instructable

One80Bits (author)2015-08-16

Haven't made paper in years, thank you for the inspiration. And there is some great info in your comments too - thanks everyone!

ultraorient (author)2009-03-27

If one wanted to use the paper for stationary what kind of sizing would you suggest and how much?

AdamVanMeter (author)ultraorient2011-10-13

Gelatine - the unflavored sort sold at the grocery store - can supposedly be used for sizing, so it won't bleed as much. As can a bit of elmer's glue, I've heard. This is all secondhand, though - I haven't made any paper of my own to be sure.

MandiM3 (author)AdamVanMeter2015-08-04

This is correct. You can "paint" on liquified gelatin after the sheets are dry if you decide later that the sheets need sizing.

ultraorient (author)AdamVanMeter2011-10-13

Thanks so much, Mr. VanMeter. :)

Probably a small picture frame for your mold. The pieces above are about 10"x8", which is a good size for cutting down to make stationary. As far as thickness, the more mixture, the stiffer the paper, so just use a bit less to start with and experiment with adding more if needed after it's dried a bit. Honestly, experimentation is the best answer I can give you.

I apologize that I did not make myself clear. Sizing is a liquid that is added to the pulp so that when writing on the paper the ink does not sink into the paper, thus distorting the letters to the pint of not being able to read it. I have heard that a tablespoon of liquid starch puts a semi-permiable film on the paper. I have not tried that yet. I did, however use a piece of lace instead of the extra screening material and let the pulp dry in it. It makes beautiful embossed paper.

Yes, that is correct. The amount of starch to be used varies a great deal based on the stock you use and the desired effect. Cornstarch can also be used although it takes some preparation. Traditionally paper is measured in pounds per ream (500 sheets) so 20 lb paper uses 20 lbs of pulp to produce 500 sheets. So practice a bit and when you feel comfortable start tuning down the amount of pulp actually in the water when you dip your screen. This will reduce the thickness of your finished sheet. Also if you have a rolling pin and a marble cutting board (or something similar) wait until the sheets are almost completely dry and then press them with the rolling pin to get to finished surface.

Thanks for your info, egbertfitzwilly. It so happens I have a marble cutting board AND a marble rolling pin.

Good to know. lol. I haven't used such a technique yet but definitely will try it out! Thanks :)

sallydaw (author)2015-07-13

I've never done anything like this but I would so love to try it!

StevenS20 (author)2015-06-10


StevenS20 (author)2015-06-10

TheCornerofCraft (author)2015-06-09

Amazing and such a thorough tutorial! I will definitely have to give this a whirl. I love writing on homemade paper

michael.juhlin.10 (author)2014-10-23

I have carrot fiber left from my juice maker. I love the color of it. Can that be used somehow to make paper?

Perhaps. I would hazard a guess that it would need to be starched before use, the fibres would probably disintegrate with use otherwise. You should try different combinations with small sheets; there's nothing to lose and it would be quite interesting if that worked. I've seen a paper store (VF Papyrus) that uses vegetables pressed together to make paper, and it seems to work.

Muhaiminah Faiz (author)2015-06-07

Excellent work! Great and clear instructions! Would love to give it a try :)

MikensieW (author)2015-04-21

this looks really cool cant wait to make it!!!!!!!!!!!!

NathanSellers (author)MikensieW2015-06-05

Nice process. I remember making paper when I was a kid. It was a lot of fun.

dryan16 (author)2013-03-03

Is this paper ok to fold?

tinajuarez (author)2012-12-05

Pour pulp through some fabric. It will dry and you will have a linter you can use for another papermaking day.

SuzanneE (author)2011-12-08

Found these instructions very helpful and will be using them as i want to make my own cards and envelopes. The pics are great and i will be back to check out more instructions i'm sure. Please let us know the approx. dry time. Thanks!

Trigonography (author)2010-12-21

How long does it generally take to make a sheet of paper? I'm looking to make a journal with handmade paper (I'm thinking of adding cotton to the mix for longevity and resistance to wear,) and I would like to know what kind of time I'm investing. If it's going to take very long to make 80 or so sheets, I may wait until summer break when I can work outside with more resources to attempt this project. But if I can do the ~80 pages in a couple of days, then I'll likely make it my New Year's project.

sneakyparasol (author)2010-02-06

I've seen hand made paper before with rose petals etc in it. At what point in this process would you add it ?
Great instructions by the way!

I haven't tried that yet but I'd say probably when spreading the pulp across the screen. When the pulp's pressed, the petals should stay in place.

man ray (author)2009-07-14

my grand mother used to do somthing like this with the stuff left over from the dryer

thickneckarts (author)man ray2009-07-16

I've heard of lint papering too but haven't tried it yet.

dobbylvr (author)2009-07-12

how long does it take to dry? wonderful ible by the way

thickneckarts (author)dobbylvr2009-07-16

Drying depends on thickness, humidity, etc. I built extra screens so that both sides can dry evenly and that takes some time off the process too. I've used a dehumidifier but that can make the paper curl :( All in all, I'd say at least a day-day.5

jessica9232 (author)2009-07-02

do you need to use a blender? i recall doing this as a kid, but i don't remember using a blender.

You can use a pestle & mortar.

Alexbretherton (author)2009-06-23

awesome idea i'm gonna make loads of this

Sweet! Have fun!

thickneckarts (author)2009-04-25

Hey everyone! Don't forget to vote for the Epilog Challenge! If you dig my paper, vote for it! :D

noxelt (author)2009-04-24

2 Questions...1. Does your paper "stick" to the screening? Mine does and I am wondering what to do to prevent that. 2. Have you (or anyone) tried a dehydrator or other way to speed up the drying process? Answers/suggestions appeciated.

thickneckarts (author)noxelt2009-04-24

I have a few make-shift screens that are only for drying so I usually transfer the still-wet paper to another screen for drying. Thumping the back of the screen (opposite the paper) with you finger should loosening it up. I have used our dehumidifier which speeds up the drying process but not enough to warrant using the extra energy.

noxelt (author)thickneckarts2009-04-25

Thank you! How soon after pressing the paper between the screens do you transfer to the other screen? I assume you still keep a another screen on top to keep the paper flat. Is that correct, or do you use felt? Again, thank you!

thickneckarts (author)noxelt2009-04-25

Time isn't necessarily of the essence but I tend to do it all in one go so I can get on to the next piece. I set a larger screen ontop of the drying paper screen. The weight of the larger frame's edges will keep the paper flat. The plus to this process is having screens on both sides of the paper, rather than felt on one side, will allow it to dry faster.

dolldr (author)2009-04-21

Although not a 'green' process, I like to vacuum the underside of the screen between steps 6 & 7. Impatient, yes.

RoyalPayne (author)2009-04-03

I use the paper from my shredder. The stuff I have left over after I use it for mulch around my garden plants. This way, all the paper I receive through the mail is used greenly, and does not end up in the land fill. Wonderful colors, your paper. Has any one a instructable for envelopes to match?

About This Instructable




Bio: I dig making hemp jewelry and upcycling would-be tossed items. I also run a free website that maps businesses that offer "free tire air" to ... More »
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