Recently we had another little "disaster" at our house. Somehow, two whole rolls of toilet paper made their way into our 3 year old's bath, and were dissolved with glee into mushy wet wads of mess. Wanting to go with the flow, I thought for a minute about how to solve this situation. There had been so much fun creating this "art" in the bath, and it would be wasteful to just strain it off into the garbage or compost. We decided this was the perfect opportunity for a lesson in making handmade paper. Toilet paper is not the best material to use as it's already recycled thin paper weight and made of short fibres. We shredded up additional scrap paper, including colours and new textures and scooped out all the soggy pulp into a large plastic bin. Here are our steps for making paper (best done in the summer months outdoors, but in a pinch you can line your table or floor with thick towels and make your paper indoors).
Handmade Seed Paper
You will need:
- Paper pulp (about 10 sheets of scrap paper, including different colours and textures will do)
- Blender or Food Processor
- Screen (we made one from an embroidery hoop and mosquito netting)
- Seeds (optional, to add into your paper for "growing" your paper in soil)
- Two large plastic water-proof tubs
- Felt pieces large enough to cover your screen, and/or old tea towels
- Rolling pin (to use as a press)
- Drying area (we are using our plant growing rack, but drying outdoors in warm weather would be perfect)
1) Soak your paper in warm water. Rip it into shreds, let it become a soggy mess!
2) Scoop out paper pulp with your screen and blend in small batches in your food processor/blender.
3) Now you should have uniform mushy paper pulp. Add small flat seeds or other bits you want to decorate your paper. We added marigold seeds.
4) Add about one cup of pulp into your plastic tub (which is filled with warm water). You will need to test the thickness of your paper when you screen it out, to see if you need to add more water or pulp to the mix.
5) Use your screen to strain out the pulp into smooth sheets. Press your screen down onto the felt or tea towels in your second plastic tub. Layer with more felt in between each sheet.
6) When you have made a stack of about 10 sheets of handmade pulp paper, roll the top of the pile gently with a small rolling pin to press out the water. Pour off as much water as you can.
7) Lay out your sheets to dry. Drying time will depend on the thickness of your paper, and the temperature. Indoors in a cool house it will take several days. You could set up a fan beside your drying rack to help with the drying. Flip them part way through the drying process to help speed the drying. Outside in summer weather they can be dried in a day.
8) Pulp should be used up within a few days as it will not keep.
9) Write letters or make drawings on your seed paper, then plant in the ground for new flowers to grow!