Making Paper at Home

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

| December/January 1993

  • making paper - step 1
    Fill a five gallon plastic vat with three quarts of pulp. Add cold water to within 3 inches of the top. Insert mold and deckle vertically.
    MARRIANNE SADDINGTON
  • making paper - step 2
    Tilt mold toward you until it is lying horizontally.
    MARRIANNE SADDINGTON
  • making paper - step 3
    Life out the mold and deckle. Hold is horizontally while excess water drains. Stir the vat mixture after each sheet to keep pulp from settling to the bottom
    MARRIANNE SADDINGTON
  • making paper - step 4
    To couch, start with the mold held vertically over a piece of wet felt.
    MARRIANNE SADDINGTON
  • making paper - step 6
    Pull the mold and deckle away. Once your sheet of paper is separated, place another section of wet felt on top of it and repeat the process from the beginning.
    MARRIANNE SADDINGTON
  • making paper - step 5
    In one smooth rolling motion, lower lower the mold down with your left hand until it's flat against the felt, then raise it back up with your right hand.
    MARRIANNE SADDINGTON
  • making paper - mold and deckle
    A mold and deckle are essential equipment if you're making paper yourself. The mold is a durable wood frame, one side of which is covered by a fine-gauge, porous material.
    ILLUSTRATION: MARRIANNE SADDINGTON

  • making paper - step 1
  • making paper - step 2
  • making paper - step 3
  • making paper - step 4
  • making paper - step 6
  • making paper - step 5
  • making paper - mold and deckle

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.



If you don't have a blender, beat the soaked paper strips into pulp by pounding them in a bucket with a thick stick or bottle filled with water. Although pounding the pulp is historically more authentic than using electric appliances, be forewarned: it is hard, time-consuming work.

After blending the pulp, pour it into a bucket or large plastic bottle until you have enough for several sheets. Figure that one load in the blender will make one thin sheet of 8 1/2" x 11" paper. A two-gallon bucket of pulp will make 20 to 25 sheets.

Priya
9/6/2013 4:56:56 AM

Your information about paper recycling is useful. Using papers for making the paper cup is one of the recycling activities of papers.


Anitha
8/27/2013 6:57:45 AM

This article is useful for children to know how to make papers. Different varieties of papers used to make cup are made with high quality raw materials which enables recycling. http://www.reeldiecuttingmachine.com/paper-cup-machine.php


Elm Whitewillow
6/25/2012 10:13:15 PM

I agree with Jeff. Also the instructions were a bit confusing.






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