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:
- 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
- knife or kitchen scissors
- wet measuring cup
- dry measuring cup
- large pot with lid
- 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!!!