Creating Handmade Paper

Tired of hearing your roommate complain about all those scraps of paper lying around your room? Well, keeping track of discarded paper can really be a messy business. The good thing is we can transform that mess into an actual business. Here’s how:

To produce our own handmade paper, we’ll have to go through four stages. The first is making the mold and deckle, second is making the basic paper mixture, third is making the new paper itself, and last is personalizing the finished product.

For the mold and deckle we’re going to need the following:

  • Screwdriver
  • 8 L-shaped aluminum braces
  • 2 Plain wooden frames
  • 16 bass screws
  • Gloves
  • Wire cutters or sharp scissors
  • Aluminum wire mesh
  • Hammer
  • Brass nails

Then for making the paper mixture, we’ll need:

  • Discarded paper
  • Large bowl
  • Large cup or mug
  • Blender
  • Large container

Once our paper mixture is ready, we will need:

  • Mold and deckle
  • Plastic container with a flat bottom
  • Paper pulp
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cloth
  • Sponge
  • Clothesline
  • Newspaper
  • Board that is at least 2 inches bigger than the mold and deckle
  • Old cloth
  • Pins
  • Flat iron (optional)

and for the last part, we’ll have to gather:

  • Rose petals
  • Flower heads
  • Leaves
  • Grasses
  • Any items that you wish to decorate your handmade paper with

Making a mold and deckle

The mold and deckle are the wooden frames that we will need to shape our handmade paper. The mold is the wooden frame that has wire mesh stretched across it while the deckle is the plain frame with no mesh. Don’t worry, they’re not difficult to make.

To make the mold, we’ll take the wooden frames and attach the L-shaped braces to its corners using the bass screws. This is to strengthen the frame which will be submerged under water from time to time.

Next, we’ll cut a portion of the wire mesh using the size of the frame as a guide. Then using the hammer, we’ll nail the wire mesh unto the back of the first frame. To prevent accidents, we’ll wear a pair of thick gloves before we do this (Safety first, so no objections, okay?).

Once the mold is ready, we’ll attach the deckle on top of the mold and sandwich the wire mesh between them.

Preparing the Paper Mixture

After preparing the mold and deckle, we will now move on to making the paper mixture. For this part, we’ll get the discarded paper we’ve gathered before and rip them to small pieces, ideally about 1 to 2 inches wide.

Next, let’s place the paper in a bowl then pour some hot water unto it until the scraps are fully covered. After that, we’ll set the bowl aside and let the paper be soaked overnight so the fibers will separate.

Once we’re done with that part, we’ll take one cup of soaked paper and three cups of cold water and put them together in the blender. Then let’s turn the blender to high speed and let it spin for a while until the paper is completely crushed and the pulp has achieved a creamlike texture.

Finally, we’ll put the pulp in a large container until we have the amount we desire.

Making the Paper

Now that the paper mixture is ready, get the mold and deckle so we can place the latter over the former. After this, we’ll stir the pulp with a spoon then submerge the frame under water and keep it there for a few seconds.

After the pulp has settled on the frame, we’ll bring it up to the surface of the water and shake it from side to side to ensure that the pulp is spread evenly across the frame.

We will then lift the frame out of the water and hold it still until the excess water runs out. Once it’s done, we’ll place the mold on a flat surface and lift the deckle away.

When most of the water has been drained away, we’ll turn the mold upside down and lay it down on a piece of wet cloth. Then get a sponge and rub it through the mesh until there’s little to no water left.

After this, we’ll lift the corners of the cloth and carefully remove the mold. If some of the paper is still stuck to the mesh, we can just rub the sponge across it again then flip it over and remove the cloth from the frame, doing it slowly so the paper won’t peel away.

Next, we’ll lift the cloth with the paper attached and hang it on the clothesline to dry. When it’s almost dry, we’ll get the sheet of paper and place it in between two pieces of dry cloth and put it under a pile of heavy books so it will be flat when it dries.

If you want to speed up the drying process, we can choose to iron the paper instead. We’ll just place the paper between two pieces of cloth so the paper will not stick to the iron’s base plate. This will not only speed things up, it will also create a paper that is usually thinner than the ones hung up to dry.

Okay, that’s it for now. When your handmade paper’s all crunchy and dry, we’ll give you some tips on how you can customize them next so stick around. ^_^