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Making Paper at Home


Mother Earth News by Marrianne Saddington   December/January 1993

Making paper yourself is a bit time-consuming but not especially complicated, and you probably have most or all of the necessary raw materials.

Although making paper is a common enough activity, making paper at home is not because few are familiar with the techniques involved. As a calligrapher, I was initially drawn to making my own paper so that I would be able to practice my art on interesting and unusual "canvas."

I'd never realized how simple the process actually is. You probably have most of the equipment already; what you don't have you can make. Also, in addition to creating beautiful stationery, I take pride in knowing that I'm helping to reduce waste in our throwaway society.
Waste Paper into Pulp

Recycled-paper pulp can be made from tissues, computer paper, photocopier paper, wrapping paper, brown paper, note paper, or envelopes — all used on their own or in combination. Tear the paper into pieces measuring approximately one inch square and soak in water overnight. The better the quality of the paper, the smaller you need to tear the pieces and the longer you need to soak them. For example, tissues can be torn into quite large pieces and soaked for only 30 minutes, while watercolor paper needs to be torn into pieces less than one inch square and soaked for two or three days. If you're in a hurry, pour boiling water over the torn paper and allow it to stand for an hour or two.

Place a small handful of wet, torn paper and two cups of water in a blender and blend for 15 to 30 seconds. (Thick cardboard or quality papers will take longer.) After a while, experience will tell you how long to blend different kinds of paper. Remember when first starting out, blend paper for the shortest possible time — just long enough for the fibers to separate. Stop the machine after 15 seconds and check; if there are still large pieces of paper visible, allow another 10 seconds and check again. If the pulp is too thick, add more water; do not dilute it too much or you will produce fine, fragile sheets that are difficult to work with. Don't worry about little bits that do not break down entirely; they will add character to your finished product.



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