How to Make Paper Out of Anything You Want

These are step-by-step instructions on how to make your own paper out of recycled and household materials.  The process was originally explored by Kevin in the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh's Curiosity Lab and Studio.

Children should work with a responsible adult to help you with your project!

  •     Blender
  •     Water
  •     Sponge
  •     Buckets
  •     Screen (such as screen from an old screen door) or Fabric (water should be able to pass through the fabric easily)
  •     (1) Old Picture Frame
  •     Duct Tape
  •     Material you want to make paper out of:  construction paper, tissue paper, egg cartons, etc. - experiment with different materials
  •     Optional :        Sink or large pan, Food dye, Seeds, Glitter.... and anything else you want to add to your paper

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: Creating Your Pulp

1. Tear your recycled paper (or whatever material you are using) into small pieces.

2. Add the pieces to the blender.

3.  Add water to the blender - two parts water for every one part of material; this measurement may differ depending on the material you use.

4. Blend until the mixture reaches an even consistency (you don’t want any large chunks).
Blending time will vary depending on the type of material you are using.

5. You now have paper pulp.  Pour the pulp into buckets (make sure to label them if you are trying out different materials).

6. Mix any optional materials (glitter, etc.) into the pulp.

Step 2: Making Your Pulp Into Paper

1. Stretch your screen or fabric over your frame and secure it to the frame (duct tape works well).

2. Carefully pour your pulp onto the screen and spread it out. Make sure you do this over a sink, a large pan or outdoors.

3. Place your wrung-out sponge on top of the pulp-filled screen and press down gently to help separate the pulp from the water. 

4. Allow paper to dry before removing from the screen.*  Or carefully remove the damp paper from the screen and lay on a flat surface to dry.

*Most paper will take a couple of hours or an entire day to completely dry.

Pictured is a wonderful deckle (frame) and screen built by the Museum's Studio Specialist Missy.

Step 3: Additional Pressing

This process will help squeeze out any additional water from your paper and shorten its drying time.


  •      Two blocks of wood (slighty larger than your paper)
  •      "C" clamp
  •      Piece of paper or cloth

1. Lay your paper on a piece of paper or cloth and then lay that onto one of the blocks of wood.

2. Lay the second block of wood on top of that (creating a "paper sandwich").

3. Attach your "C" clamp around the blocks of wood and turn it until it begins to tighten (Again, make sure to do this process over a sink).

4. Remove the "C" clamp and carefully peel the paper away from the bottom block of wood.

5. Lay your finished paper on a flat surface to dry.

Step 4: Try Things Out

Try these variations on this papermaking process:
  • Make pulp from different materials. (Some things will work and some things will not.)
  • Add food coloring or dye to your pulp to create different looking paper.
  • Add seeds or glitter to your pulp.
  • Blend two colors of construction paper and see what color of pulp you create (e.g. blue and yellow paper will produce green pulp.)
  • Cut your finished paper into different shapes.
  • Write on or paint on your finished paper.
Good luck and please share what you came up with!

You can find similar articles on the Children's Museum's Curiosity Lab blog.

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    10 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    yeah even experts have time constraints, great cake anyway!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for you article, but it seems a tedious proses but its worth it. I am Denis from Kenya in the East African region. I was just wondering, is there a way I can make the paper pure white! and is it possible to make toilet roll through this method! Another thing. can I use a plant like the water hyacinth, which is a menace in my lake, L.. Victoria and also can we use the rice husks (the remains from the rice when it is removed from the pod/cover not the stems)!


    7 years ago on Step 3

    They're called a "G cramp" not a C clamp. Common mistake. :)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Is there any way to make the paper thinner?
    Because most recycled paper seems to be really think, which makes it impractical to use as real paper.

    1 reply

    The only way I've heard of to get it thinner is to use large steel rollers. The paper we make is more for decoration. I've found that the thicker paper works well as book covers and as drink coasters.

    pie popper

    8 years ago on Introduction

    I don't get the water part, do you mean you just need twice as much water as paper?
    Cool! I gonna try it... maybe. The only type of screen I have is tool .... :/

    1 reply

    The water to material ratio is always a little tough to figure out. You might have to try a few different variations till you find the right amounts of each thing to add. Just keep experimenting.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This looks great. I love making paper! Excellent job making it accessible to kids. I also loved putting fun teas and dried botanicals in my paper.

    1 reply

    That's funny about the dried botanicals. While I was taking the pictures featured in this post there was a whole tub full of paper pulp with dried flowers in it. I was going to take a picture but it looked kind of gross. The finished products that kids and their parents made turned out pretty cool though.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This looks great. I love making paper! Excellent job making it accessible to kids. I also loved putting fun teas and dried botanicals in my paper.