Since I’ve moved I don’t get nearly as much junk mail as I used to. I’m not sure what it is but I used to get invitations to find out what kind of a car I might with with a key attached to a giant post card or something like that. One time I even got a stopwatch attached to a post card that was ticking away at the time I had before I lost my chance to head out to the local dealership to find out exactly what I won and see what an amazing deal I could get on a new Chevy :)
Now they don’t know it but I’ve only ever driven my dad’s Chevy and since I somehow poked a gigantic hole into the side of it, perhaps I had better leave the big pickup trucks and stick to my little economy Toyota :)
Even without getting “much” in the way of junk mail I still make a lot of paper waste, mostly through list making. Now I have this awesome Rocketbook that I microwave and the heat erases the pages I kind of had an accident where the last go I used the wrong pen through the whole darn thing. Womp, womp. That really sucked. Now I got the newer Rocketbook, the Everlast in the mail just recently after I supported their funding effort on indiegogo but I haven’t messed with it just yet. Things have been so crazy that I’d probably mess up again so it’s staying in the package until I get back from crazy town :)
With a stack of papers that I’ve made countless lists on I decided to reuse that business and make paper at home. I’ve done it in the past and I liked it but these days, I freaking LOVE it. So be prepared because I’m gonna be doing this again. Want to get started and learn the basics of paper making? Let’s hit it!
For this project you will need:
- Paper making kit or homemade deckle (directions at the bottom of this post)
- Plastic tub or dishpan
- Old paper
- Construction paper (to add color)
- Blender (for craft purposes only, it won’t be food safe anymore)
- Lots of water
- Lots of towels
- Scrap fabric cut a few inches larger than your deckle
Tear up your old paper and put it into a blender. FYI, this is too much paper. You just want to fill it up about halfway with the paper really loosely packed inside.
If you want to add color the easiest way to do that is by adding construction paper. They’ve already done the hard work and dyed it meaning less mess since you don’t have to dye your pulp. Since we are adding some construction paper to a whole bunch of white notebook paper, the color will be fare less bright than the original construction paper.
Add water to your blender until it is about 3/4 full.
Puree that business up until you have a fine pulp. If your blender is having a difficult time and your pulp is really thick, your paper to water ratio is out of whack. Remove some of the pulp, add more water and process again. The finer the pulp you create, the smoother your paper will be in the end.
Pour your pulp into a tub of some sort. This guy is a dollar bargain dishpan you get in the kitchen section at big stores. You want your tub to be small enough that you don’t waste more water than necessary for the process, but big enough you can easily maneuver your paper making form inside of it. Add as much water as you added pulp to dilute.
Now this is a wooden deckle, or the form used to make paper. This came with a vintage paper making kit, Paper Anew, I snagged for $5 from Sunshine Industries, an awesome thrift store in Ardmore, OK, but at the end of this post I’ll show you how to make your own deckle with picture frames.
The way a deckle works is you have two frames. One will have a mesh on it and the other will be empty. You take the mesh covered one and put that mesh lined side facing up like in the picture.
Next place the empty frame on top. Keep them as neatly together as possible. Rubber bands can help you to keep them perfectly steady if you need some help.
Now we get messy. Bust out the towels and get ready to make a splash, literally :) Place towels around your basin to keep water from straying too far from your work area. Fold and lay a towel nearby to easily transfer your paper sheets over. On top of your towel, place your scrap fabric pieces to transfer your paper to. (see pics below if you need some help with placement)
Submerge your deckle into your watered down pulp. Shimmy and shake your deckle to even out the paper pulp as it rests inside of your mold. You want a nice, thin layer. Too thick and your paper will be crazy thick and take forever to dry.
Tap out as much of the excess water as you can. Here I’ve got the deckle resting on the corner of my tub to allow some of the excess water to naturally drip out.
Remove the top, empty frame from your deckle by carefully pulling straight up.
Turn your deckle over onto a piece of your scrap fabric on top of a towel.
Use a sponge to soak up excess water in your paper sheet through the mesh of your mold.
You can wring the excess water back into your dishpan.
At a certain point it will feel like you can’t get any more moisture out of the paper, or not enough to continue bothering trying to remove it. I can’t describe it but you’ll feel it when it’s time… When you reach that point pull your deckle straight up leaving your paper on the scrap fabric.
Now you can see here I got some super sharp edges on the top and left but not on the right or bottom. That’s because my two mold pieces weren’t held together well on that side (I was one handing it while taking pictures so that side was loose for the paper pulp to sneak into the frame. The better held together your deckle is, the sharper your edges will be.
Transfer your paper on the fabric someplace flat to dry. I typically put mine in the garage because it gets crazy hot in there and so it dries super fast. You can also hang your paper to dry but you can get weird dents in it from clips. I prefer the lay flat method because I don’t ever have to iron the paper later to get it nice and smooth.
How to make a deckle at home
Okay, so you don’t want to buy a paper making kit because all you really need is the deckle/paper mold, right? I’m going to show you how to make one at home for less than $10. You’ll need 2 wooden picture frames (wood is important because a composite material will warp or completely fall apart quickly). You’ll also need mesh of some sort. I actually dug out some old window screen mesh that the previous tenants of this house left in a pile by the house (hence the weird piece of grass I didn’t notice until I was editing pics!)
To make a deckle you will need:
Cut 2 pieces of mesh to be an inch or two larger than the opening in your picture frame. Situate the pieces to where they overlap each other making your mesh even finer than if you just used a single piece.
Staple the mesh onto the front of your photo frame. Keep the mesh tight and the staples close together.
*Quick tip – there is a link to see the exact frames I used at Amazon but they currently cost over $7 more than what I paid for them at Walmart. Use that link to see what to look for but you can get a much better deal elsewhere.
Now this is the back of the frame. See how it’s inset for the photograph? To get a nice, square piece of paper you’ll need to attach your mesh to the other side.
Use a craft knife to trim up the excess mesh and this guy is done, son.
Making paper is super messy but it’s really fun and rewarding. It’s also fun playing with different colors of construction paper to tint your homemade papers. For the piece below I super finely processed purple construction paper and then more loosely processed some red and blue for some fun flecks in the paper.
You can also add dried flowers or other items to your paper, but we’ll talk about that another day. For now get that deckle going and get comfortable making paper, because there are so many things you can do with it :)