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.

Check out all the paper that came home on the last day of school!
Check out all the paper and artwork that came home on the last day of school!

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.

Our handmade wedding invitations. I made the paper for all the envelops.
Our handmade wedding invitations. I made the paper for all the envelops.

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.

My handmade paper note book.
My handmade paper note book.

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!

Shredded paper soaking in preparation for making paper.
Shred paper and let soak. I use a stick blender directly in the tub I will use, but you can blend your paper with water in a bench-top blender too.
Handmade paper making.
Use the wire-mesh frame to lift out the pulp. Flip onto couching cloth and carefully peel away the frame.
Hang handmade paper sheets to dry.
Hang to dry. The paper will easily peel off when it is ready.

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!

Homemade ink from walnut shells.
Our school holiday experiment was to make ink from walnut shells and try writing with a feather like in the old days.

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!

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7 thoughts

  1. Tammy,I have been making paper since my 3 hilre were young they are now 33to38.
    I usually dry my paper on a trampoline and I have make apieceas big as a trampoline but very difficult to handle. But you can water the grass and make 30 sheets at the sme time. I also can made solid squares cirlles and plates. I have given my moulds away but any container can be use that has an unusal shape.So Bernie Paper was my inspiration. I would love to have a large garage bin to do all the wet processing of the pulp.Or a washing machine but a manufactuer siad that they are hard to earth or make safe.So it does tke alot of time.Enough of my experiences fo now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a lovely idea! I have tons of my daughter’s old pictures that we never displayed at home and this is a good way to recycle all this paper. Recycling is always a good idea! Thank you for sharing this great information!

    Liked by 1 person

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