Most people think of hand made paper, they think of papyrus or rice paper, but technically, neither one of those are truly paper. True paper is made from "pulp" which is characterized as thin sheets made from fiber that has been macerated until each individual filament is a separate unit.
I have always been especially attracted to all of the different varieties of Japanese Washi papers, with an endless variety of embelishments such as dried flower petals, fern leaves, even glitter added directly to the pulp. The textures and character each individual sheet takes on is truly beautiful and inspiring.
Traditional Washi is fine paper made from fibers of the Gampi Tree, the Misumata Shrub, the Mulberry bush, Bamboo, Hemp, Rice and other natural materials. This can also be achieved using few objects you probably already have around the house to make a simple pulp made of recycled scrap paper and water. Here's how:
ALL YOU'LL NEED IS:
Some Scrap paper
A cheap 8"x10" picture frame without the glass (I got mine for $1)
A scrap piece of fine screen or silk fabric (I just used an old pair of nylons)
Plastic storage tub
Your favorite embellishments (optional)
Step 1: Get Yourself a Bunch of Scrap Paper
First, gather up a bunch of scrap paper, old egg cartons, cardboard, or if you're like me, you have a ton junk mail, newspapers, letters from bill collectors, love letters from ex's, etc. floating around just waiting for a project like this- the perfect opportunity to shred it all up into therapeutically satisfying little bits!
Just use what you already have, don't throw it away- RECYCLE IT!
TIP- Don't be afraid to experiment! If you already know what you will be using your hand-made paper for or what you want it to look like, you might let that help you determine what kind of scraps to use. For example, using bright, multi-colored magazine pages will yield lively, festive looking paper. If you're going for a more subtle, neutral-colored paper, then you might decide to use brown paper bag scraps, etc.
Step 2: Tear It Up!
Use your favorite method of ripping down or tearing up to get all those scraps into smaller pieces. It's not that serious, dont make confetti, just tear each piece into smaller, more, manageable pieces so that you can mash into a pulp in the next steps. Put the smaller pieces into the mixing bowl as you go. Isn't it so satisfying to tear up all those scraps!
TIP- Try using a paper shredder to make this step faster and easier on your hands. Using a shredder will also yield more consistent looking results, so skip the shredder if you prefer bumpier, bumpier, more organic-looking paper. Tearing by hand will work just the same.
Step 3: Add Water
Put your ripped up scraps into your mixing bowl and slowly add water until all of the scrap paper is saturated. Grab your fork and give it a stir.
Step 4: Mix Well
To turn your scraps into pulp, grab your fork and start mixing, making sure everything is mashed up good! This step can take some patience, but you can do it!
TIP- A blender or food processor can really help with this step, and will result in a smoother, more consistent paper product.
Step 5: Transfer Pulp to Larger Container
Once your blended scrap mixture is about the consistency cooked oatmeal, it is called "pulp".
Carefully transfer the pulp into a plastic storage tub. Very slowly add a few cups of water and stir everything around again with your fork.
Step 6: Strain the Pulp
Secure an 10"x12" scrap piece of fine screen to your cheap picture frame with staples or duct tape, making sure there are no gaps in between or your pulp will slide off.
Slowly submerge the frame into the storage tub, and gently strain the pulp material onto the screen using a scooping motion. Repeat 3 or 4 times, depending how thick or thin you want your paper to be. Once you think its thick enough, carefully slide the sheet onto a paper towel.
Step 7: Add Embellishments- This Step Is Optional, But Highly Recommended!
This is the time to add the rest of your embellishments. You may mix in any food coloring, and/or gently lay whatever you like on top of your sheet of paper, and thembelishments will sink down into the pulp, becoming embedded as it dries. Leaves, dried flowers, stems, strings, yard, stickers, glitter, etc. have all worked well for me. I un-twisted some twine and added it on top of mine.
TIP- You can make larger sheets of paper by overlapping two or more sheets by about 1" while both sheets are still wet.
Step 8: Allow to Dry Completely
Cover your sheet with a paper towel and leave it to dry overnight.
TIP- If you're in a hurry or you're just impatient, there are several ways to speed the drying time. Try stacking paper towels and using heavy books to press moisture out. You can also absorb the excess water by patting gently with a sponge. You can stack a few extra paper towels and then use the heat from an iron or hair drier on the low settings, which will evaporate the excess water off quickly, just be careful not to burn your paper or more importantly- yourself!
Step 9: You're Done!
Congratulations you just made paper!
Hand made paper makes great one of a kind stationary, cards, envelopes, sketchbooks, scrapbook pages, even authentic-looking treasure maps for the kids and more!
If you've made paper following this (my first) instructable, please post pictures in the comments. I would love to see all the beautiful paper you've made!