Super-Green Celery Paper!

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Maybe the celery in your refrigerator's "crisper" drawer isn't quite as crisp as it used to be? Or, perhaps, you spy a whole box of miserably limp celery slated for your local grocery store's Dumpster? Then this is your lucky day. You, friend, get to make celery paper!

Now, this celery paper Instructable is "green" in a couple of ways. First, the paper you create will have a delicate, pear-green tinge to it. It will also be flecked with brighter green fibers. But, because you'll also be recycling some used office paper or junk mail that you happen to have on hand, this project is green in a sustainable living sort of way, too.

~~~

One bunch of celery and roughly one cup of shredded, used office paper made eight six-by-nine-inch sheets of celery paper. Your own output will vary, depending on the size and thickness of the paper you make.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies.

You will need:

RAW MATERIALS

  • celery (at least one bunch)
  • shredded, used office paper or junk mail—but no "window" envelopes! (at least one cup)
  • colored tissue paper (OPTIONAL)
  • washing soda
  • corn starch
  • water

MISC. TOOLS

    • knife or kitchen scissors
    • wet measuring cup
    • dry measuring cup
    • large pot with lid
    • strainer
    • spoon
    • old (but working) blender
    • paper making mould (screen) and deckle (frame)
    • container large enough to accommodate mold and deckle
    • loose sheet of screen mesh
    • soft, cotton rags (old T-shirt material works well!)
    • C-clamps or heavy weight(s)
    • two boards (for drying wet sheets of paper in between)

    Step 2: Prepare the Celery.

    1. Rinse your celery to remove dirt, sand, or other debris. Remove any leaves, cut away the crown, and separate the individual stalks.

    2. Fill a large pot about halfway with water, cut celery stalks so they'll fit in the pot, and bring the whole thing to a boil.

    3. In the meantime, fill your liquid measuring cup with one cup of very hot water. Measure one-half cup of washing soda with the dry cup. Carefully stir this into the cup of hot water, so that it dissolves.

    4. Once dissolved, add this washing soda mixture to the large pot of celery. Stir well. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and leave as-is for an hour. (You can stir it occasionally, if you like. The celery will begin to disintegrate.)

    ~~~ After about an hour~~~

    5. Remove the big pot from the stove, pour pot contents through strainer, and rinse well. You'll be left with stringy cellulose from the celery. (The softer bits of pith should drain out, along with the water.)

    6. Wring excess water (and remaining pith) from the cellulose and chop or cut into inch-long sections. (This should make the blending go a little more smoothly.)

    Step 3: Make the Pulp.

    PULPING THE CELERY

    1. Place a small handful of cellulose into your blender along with one teaspoon of corn starch and four to five cups of water. (The corn starch helps to make ink flow more smoothly onto your finished paper.)

    2. Blend until the mixture is thick and pulpy. (It should look a bit like murky, green pond water, in fact!)

    3. Pour this liquid into your large container and continue to blend the remainder of your cellulose—one, small handful of cellulose, one teaspoon of corn starch, and four or so cups of water each time—until it is all gone.

    NOTE: Advanced paper makers can make paper with 100 percent celery pulp; however, it is much more difficult to work with. I recommend mixing a little bit of recycled office paper in with your celery pulp, because this makes forming new paper sheets much easier.

    PULPING RECYCLED PAPER

    1. Place about half a cup of shredded office paper into your blender along with one teaspoon of corn starch and four to five cups of water. (OPTIONAL: If you want to boost the green look of your paper, you can add one or two tiny scraps of green tissue paper to the mix.)

    2. Blend until the mixture is thick and pulpy. (It should look cloudy and milky-gray when it's ready.)

    3. Pour this liquid into your large container along with the celery pulp.

    4. Repeat these steps with at least one more half cup of shredded office paper.

    Step 4: Form Your Paper Sheets.

    The image above shows the process I'm going to describe here—just follow it from left to right. You can also watch the video to see how this whole process works. OK? OK!

    So, the pulp level in your container should be deep enough that you can easily submerge your paper making mould and deckle. NOTE: If you missed this earlier, here is an Instructable for making your own mould and deckle, by the way. Also, some people just use window screens and picture frames to form their paper sheets. Whatever works!

    1. Agitate the pulp bath with your hand to more evenly distribute its contents. Then, holding the mould and deckle tightly together with both hands, dip it down into the container.

    2. Move the mould and deckle from side to side and up and down as you bring it up to the surface. This motion helps "lock" the paper fibers together in your sheet.

    3. Allow excess water to drain through the screening and then place the mould and deckle upright on a rag or towel to catch drips.

    4. Remove the deckle (frame portion) from the top of the mould. Be careful not to drip onto your wet sheet of paper, as this will cause weak spots and visible defects. NOTE: If you do mess up, it's no big deal. You can just invert the sheet back onto the surface of the pulp bath—the pulp will slide off into the liquid, and you can try again. (Hooray for second chances!)

    5. Place a loose sheet of screen mesh over the wet sheet of paper. Use a soft cloth or rag to blot excess water.

    6. Carefully remove the loose sheet of screen.

    Step 5: Allow to Dry.

    As long as your paper sheets are wet, they will be very fragile, but, once they're dry, they'll be nice and strong. There are many ways to dry handmade paper, and, while this one is pretty easy and low-tech, it isn't perfect. (Some of my sheets end up a little buckled at times, but I fix this by ironing them on a low setting.)

    1. Lay one of your boards out on a flat surface. Cover with an absorbent cloth or several layers of rags and then invert the mould with the wet sheet of paper face down. Use another rag to blot the back of the mould's screen. This will help loosen the sheet enough that you should be able to transfer it from the mould onto the dry surface. To help my paper dislodge from the mould and adhere to this new surface, I lightly strike the back of the mould with a flicking motion.

    NOTE: If the material you transfer your wet paper sheet onto has a lot of texture, your sheet will take on that texture. I like using old T-shirts and similarly tightly woven cottons for this part, because my paper's surface stays relatively smooth as a result.

    2. Remove the mould. Make sure the sheet is lying flat against the drying surface. Now, place another cloth over the top of the wet paper sheet, smoothing it carefully with your hands.

    3. Continue to layer clean, dry cloths with all of the new, wet paper sheets you form. When you've finished, top with another absorbent cloth or several more layers of rags. Then place the other board on top.

    4. Use C-clamps to squeeze the boards tightly together. Alternatively, place a heavy weight on top of the boards.

    5. In a couple of days, you can peek at your paper. At this point, I usually replace some of the wet rags with dry ones and re-clamp everything. Once it's dry, you can smooth out your paper a little more by ironing it (without steam!) on a low setting.

    Ta da! You made paper.

    ~~~~

    This Instructable is my entry into the RAINBOW CONTEST. In particular, it is a celebration of my favorite color: GREEN! If you liked it, please vote for it! (And maybe even share it with a friend?...) Thank you!!!

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      24 Discussions

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      cutelittledevil

      9 days ago

      I kinda hate how great your instructable is, I really wanted that 3d printer, but at least I will lose from someone who I also consider better.
      And I may actually try making celery paper myself :)

      3 replies
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      SusanLandcutelittledevil

      Reply 9 days ago

      Oh my goodness!!! It's so cool that you wrote to me, because I saw YOUR project shortly after you added it and thought, "Uh oh! She has made a very good Instructable!!!"

      Truly, I am just very glad that so many people have peeked at my celery paper project. I haven't made very many Instructables in all, but I always spend a lot of time on each of them and sometimes I just feel like the tree that fell down in the forest with no one there to have heard my leaf-y crash. Know what I mean?

      Also, I like to see other ladies making stuff. I wish there were more of us around here. (I am really rambling now...) Anyway, thank you for your comment. I was feeling kind of blue this morning—not a good color for me—and you perked me up a bit. :-)

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      cutelittledevilSusanLand

      Reply 8 days ago

      I know what you mean and I am glad you can appreciate my comment.

      I am going to try and make some quick Ibles for the beauty contest. Those won't take long to make so I may have extra time for styling it.

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      SusanLandcutelittledevil

      Reply 8 days ago

      Ah! Well, I will look forward to seeing what you come up with.

      You know, I wish there were a place to submit ideas for new contests. It would be interesting to see what suggestions come out of that. I know I would have a few to add! :-)

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      Leigh-AnnH

      13 days ago

      Congratulations. A really well done instructable. Lovely clear instructions. Terrific video and photos. Thankyou.

      1 reply
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      SusanLandLeigh-AnnH

      Reply 13 days ago

      Ah! I am so glad you like it!!! Thank you for letting me know. :-D

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      SusanLandartworker

      Reply 15 days ago

      You might expect it to smell somewhat celery-like, but, really, it doesn't have much of a smell at all. Mostly just smells like paper!

      Incidentally, I have tried to infuse some of the other kinds of papers I make with scent by adding essential oils to the pulp, but even that was too subtle for anyone to notice.

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      Meggimoo SusanLand

      Reply 14 days ago

      I wonder if fresh basil or mint leaves would have an effect on the fragrance of the paper. I am assuming that using those word only lessen the integrity of the paper.

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      SusanLandMeggimoo

      Reply 14 days ago

      I haven't done this, but I think you could incorporate dried mint or basil leaves into the paper and that might influence its scent slightly. You would likely want to do that at the sheet formation stage—right after you have removed the deckle (frame part) and just before you lay down the loose screen in order to mop up excess water. Also, some of the dried plant material might flake off/away from the finished paper, but it might still be fun to try anyway. I know people embed dried rose petals and all sorts of things into their paper. That would make it more decorative, ultimately, than utilitarian.

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      attosa

      16 days ago

      This is so cool-- never seen such a thing!

      1 reply
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      SusanLandattosa

      Reply 16 days ago

      I'm glad you liked it! There are tons of weird things you can make paper out of. You just have to be able to separate any usable cellulose contained in the material from the unusable, extra stuff. :-D

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      lstreet37

      18 days ago

      Very clear instructions, and your video and pictures are well done. I'm sure I can do this. Thanks for sharing. :)

      1 reply
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      Trash Queen

      18 days ago

      Now I can make something beautiful AND useful from the limp celery in my fridge. Thank you!

      1 reply