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10 Steps To Make Your Own Paper
Tyler Olson

10 Simple Steps To Make Your Own Paper

If you’re looking for a sustainable and fun craft idea suitable for adults and children alike, making your own paper could be just the thing.

The very first paper was made by a Chinese court official during the Eastern Han period (25-220 AD) [1]. It’s thought that he made his paper by mixing mulberry bark, hemp and rags with water and mashing it into pulp before pressing out the liquid and hanging the resulting thin mat to dry in the sun. [2]

While, industrially, paper is usually made from wood pulp, it can be made from all sorts of ingredients, from plants, fruit and vegetables to cotton rags – there is even paper made from elephant poo! Fortunately, there is a much cleaner and simpler process when making paper at home, which involves using up scrap paper you might have lying around, such as, old newspapers, office paper, letters – pretty much anything paper-based that can be torn up. We suggest a simple process below, but there are lots of useful ‘how to’ videos on the internet. When you have made your paper, it can be crafted into a variety of items that are ideal for gifting.

The process requires a little patience, but it’s a pleasant way to while away a winter’s afternoon. Paper making at home usually requires the use of a mould and deckle, which are sold by most craft retailers, but good results can also be achieved by using items you might find in your kitchen or around the house.

What Equipment Do I Need?

  • Scissors
  • Washing up bowl
  • A blender/hand-blender
  • Frying pan splatter guard (in place of a mould and deckle)
  • Baking tray with a lip
  • Hairdryer

What Materials Do I Need?

  • Paper scraps
  • Decorative items to add to the pulp mixture, for example, dried flower petals, plant seeds and biodegradable glitter
  • Water

10 Steps To Make Your Own Paper

  1. Cut or tear the scrap paper into pieces of approximately 1 inch/2.5 cm squared – they don’t have to be even as they will be mashed into a pulp – and place into the washing up bowl.
  2. Poor cool water into the bowl, just enough to cover the paper, and make sure all the pieces are submerged. Leave to soak for a couple of hours or until the paper is mushy.
  3. Once the paper is soft and pulpy, transfer it into a blender, in stages if need be, depending on how much paper you have pulped. If you are using a hand-blender, leave in the washing bowl and blend it there. The mixture should form a wet, squishy pulp – add more water if it is too dry. The finer the blended mixture, the smoother the paper will be.
  4. Create interest and texture by adding glitter, flower petals, or even small scraps of un-pulped paper to the pulp mixture.
  5. Place the splatter guard over the backing tray (it should rest on the lip of the tray rather than in it).
  6. Using a large spoon or a cup, scoop the pulp out of the bowl and spread it evenly over the splatter guard. The excess water will drain into the baking tray beneath. Try to spread it as smoothly and evenly as you can, making sure it’s not so thin that there are holes.
  7. Using your hands or a spatula, press out as much water as possible.
  8. Tip the water out of the baking tray before leaving the pulp to rest on the splatter guard to air dry or, if you want to speed things along, give it a blast with a hairdryer (this will make it wrinkle, but a quick iron once it has dried will flatten it out.
  9. Once dry, carefully peel the paper from the splatter guard and admire!
  10. Your finished paper can be transformed into a variety of items as we briefly explore, below.

How Can You Use Handmade Paper?

Gift tags. The paper will be a little tricky to write on, but a ball point pen will do the job. Alternatively, cut a piece of paper smaller than the tag and glue it to one side; you can then write on this using ink of your choice.

Christmas decorations. Using festive coloured paper scraps and glitter to make your paper pulp means you will be able to make lovely seasonal decorations. Cut shapes from the paper and string them together to make a garland

Bookmarks. Simply cut a rectangle from your piece of paper to create a bookmark. Add detail by using a hole punch to cut a hole and thread through a ribbon or a tassel.

Scrapbooking. Add details to your scrapbook or journal by pasting in pieces of your homemade paper.

Handmade paper is just another example of the beauty and versatility of paper as a material and is a great activity to encourage children to think about where things come from and how they are made. You can find more paper craft ideas here.

The Paper Fact File

Paper is one of the most sustainable and recycled materials in the world!

Visit the Paper Fact File to discover the facts about paper’s sustainable attributes. Some might surprise you!