New Paper from Old

"Watercolor wash on home made paper"

Do you have a thousand papers lying around?  Every one is a masterpiece so the kids don’t want to throw them away?  I keep looking for ideas of how to reuse these “treasures” as material for other projects.  Today we tried paper-making.  It was a blast!  I have to admit though that I was a little too obsessive about making sure the paper turned out correctly at first so I had to take a chill pill and remind myself that the point was for the kids to have fun.

"What to do with paper scraps"



So if you want to try your hand at this here is what you will need:

– Old Paper (napkins, paper towels, worksheets, etc.)  If you mix contrasting colored papers you will get shades of mud

– Stapler (one that flips open for stapling bulletin boards)

– An unwanted picture frame (smallish)

– Multiple felt squares that fit inside the frame

– Old screen from a door or window

– A blender or food processor (I think it’s okay to use one you use for food as long as you’re not putting toxic substances in it)

– A cake pan or dish pan that the picture frame can easily fit inside

– Lot of towels! (wiping up the floor when the project is done counts as mopping)

"Screen stapled to frame"

Here’s what you do with the picture frame.  You set it on the screen and cut the screen to the approximate size.  As you can see I then stapled the screen to what would have been the front of the frame.  After stapling the screen securely then trim up any extra along the outside.  This is the part I did when my kids were taking their nap.  I also tried one round of making a sheet of paper myself before I had them join me so that I had a general sense of what we were about.

You’ll also need some flet squares to fit inside the frame in order to lift the paper out.  They should look something like this:

"Paper making"

Next it’s time to go to town on ripping up paper.  This is something all the kids were happy to join in.

"Paper making"

They took turns practicing their cutting skills as well since I could only round-up one pair of kid scissors today.  All the scraps went into the food processor with a bit of water.  Pressing the button on the food processor is always a much coveted privilege and I had to instruct each one before hand to press the button once quickly then let go, wait a second and then press again.  After a couple quick chops and a bit more water blending was easy.  And here was the appetizing result:

"Paper Pulp"


Next dump this goo into a dish of water and mix it like a soup.  Remember that the water must be deep enough for the screened frame to easily be dipped into it.  When you submerge your frame make sure that it looks like you have an even amount of pulp floating above it.  You may spoon some  pulp off if there is too much or spoon some back on if there is not enough.  When you are satisfied lift the frame up evenly and set the felt on top of the pulp.

Now carefully squeeze the water out by pressing down on the felt.  We made this a two person job by having one person hold the frame and the other hold a spoon and smooth it over the top pressing down.  After the paper is dry enough (this will take a few times to get the feel) then turn the frame felt side down and drop the frame on the table.  This force was enough for me to get the paper to stick with the felt and break away from the screen.  You may need to experiment a bit with your set up and see if you first need to tease the paper away at the corners with a knife.  Finally you can set the paper out in the sun to dry.  Hooray!



If you have made paper with or without kids please leave a link in the comments to share your ideas!


3 thoughts on “New Paper from Old

  1. I used to make paper as a kid and I remember adding herbs from our garden to make scented paper. And if your paper dries with too many ripples a trip under an iron works wonders. I’m seeing a great alternative to school end of year paper burning! Thanks!

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