We have kids attending school so despite not having owned a printer for years, having a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign on our mailbox, and receiving bills, newsletters, and newspapers electronically, we have a lot of paper coming home and then going into the recycle bin.
I decided it was time to revive an old hobby of mine and recycle the paper myself. My Aunty Sue taught me how to make paper as a child and it’s one of those hobbies that I pick up and drop off over the years depending on how creative I’m feeling.
January and February are ideal times (in Southern Australia) to make paper because of the hot dry air. It’s a really simple process which yields aesthetically pleasing paper that can be crafted into gorgeous gifts like this note book I made.
What can be recycled?
You can use office, computer and photocopy paper, non-glossy brochures, tissue paper, and art papers. You just need to be sure there is no glue, sticky tape or envelop windows attached to the paper. Newspapers are not good for handmade paper because it contains a significant amount of acid and isn’t made to be long lasting. We make sure the paper has been fully utilised for writing or drawing before being recycled.
How it works
The process of making handmade paper involves turning the fibres in your recycled paper back into pulp by soaking and beating with a kitchen blender. Mix the pulp in a tub of water and use a wire-mesh frame to strain the pulp into a new sheet of paper. Lay the pulp onto any sort of couching cloth to drain away the water. I also press a big sponge onto the pulp to help with this. Next I hang the pulp up to dry, and after a couple of hours, ta-da – handmade paper!
Home made ink
The kids and I also had a go at making ink from walnut shells after I read a post from Little House on the Prairie. It didn’t work out as well as we’d hoped; perhaps I should have boiled the walnut shells for longer. Nevertheless, the colour works well as a watermark on the notebook. We gave up using the feather ‘pen’ too. A paint brush is much easier!
If you’ve never made paper before and want more detail than I have provided, you will be able to find lots of resources online or at your local library. I often just enjoy having a go and experimenting to see what works. Sometimes I add flowers and leaves and other plant fibres to make it interesting. Paper making is an inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and satisfying activity to do. Enjoy!