Tuesday, February 7, 2012

making paper for valentines cards

   Naiya and I have been trying a few ideas out for this year's Valentines. 

   We really liked this concept, but after cutting out all the little hearts for just the two we completed, we didn't think we were up to making twenty more of these.  We do know that we'll be working in the paper medium this year though, and although we still haven't formulated the entire design, we decided to make the paper ourselves!

   Paper making is an old art and, once you have the equipment for it, is pretty easy to do.
   I've had this pour mold/deckle for years and have no idea where it originally came from but after searching online found something very similar here.  One can also make the equipment from fiberglass screens and old picture frames or even from cardboard and duct tape as seen here.

   Once your equipment is set up, making an actual sheet of paper takes only a few minutes and the possible variations are endless.
   This is a great craft for kids.  What child wouldn't want to make from scratch their own paper, note cards, gift tags, ornaments and Valentines?  Naiya loved adding glitter and confetti, flowers, leaves and even wool to create a plethora of one-of-a-kind pages.
To begin you'll need:
some kind of mold/deckle set-up
a bit of window screen
a shallow tub
a tray or cookie sheet with high edges
a sponge
a blender or food processor
absorbent blotter paper, felt or other rags
a pulp source (recycled paper, paper towels or tissue you've already got or even lint from your dryer will work)
water and a place to work that can get wet

I've seen people make paper from equipment somewhat different than mine.  There is usually a wooden mold with a screen attached and a separate deckle (an empty wooden frame) that sits on top of the mold that serves as the boundary to keep the pulp in place and define the page size.  In place of the mold, my kit just has this plastic platform/drain rack and a very fine rigid but flexible plastic screen is strapped between it and the deckle before it is turned over and lowered into the tub to receive the pulp.

The tub is filled with warm water enough that the screen sits below it by at least 3/4 of an inch.

The easiest way to make pulp is in a blender or food processor using paper, paper towels, newsprint, tissue, shopping bags or even lint from the dryer.  One sheet of paper makes one sheet of paper of similar size and thickness so find the appropriate mass and tear the recylables into small bits.  Blend the material with 1 -2 cups of water for about 30 seconds to make the pulp.

Pour the pulp into the mold and spread it evenly around in the water using gentle fingertips.

Since we're working on Valentines, we set a cookie cutter on top of our screen and carefully poured a contrasting pulp within its boundaries.  (Naiya also added a huge handful of chunky glitter to this batch of pulp.)

Holding the mold/deckle very level, lift it out of the water and set it in a cookie sheet to drain.  (Technically, the cookie sheet isn't necessary.  It's used to keep countertops and floors dry but I suppose one could do this project out of doors and forgo this piece of equipment.)

Carefully lift the deckle from the screen.  This may require pushing edges back in place or using a flat edge to help separate the two pieces from each other.

Remove any additional interior molds (the cookie cutter in our case).

Gently place the piece of screen over the pulpy sheet.  With a sponge press firmly down on top of the screen, wringing out the water as necessary, until no more can be extracted.

Lift and slowly remove the screen.

Place blotter paper (thick absorbent paper, fabric or felt) on top of the pulpy paper and press it with a wood block or rolling pin to extract more water and flatten the page.  Flip so the blotter is on the bottom and remove the screen.  Place another dry couch sheet (that's the technical paper-making term and is pronounced kootch) on the pulp and blot it again.  Repeat this with as many couch sheets as are necessary until no water comes through the blotter.

Gently peel away the couch sheets and bask in the beauty of hand made paper.

The sheets will take anywhere from a day to three to dry.  For instant use try a blow dryer or place the sheet between two thin pieces of fabric and iron on a flat surface until dry.


And now on to card making...


  1. This looks like fun! Thanks for the step by step process.

  2. i've been wanting to try and make paper!

  3. Your paper looks gorgeous - such lovely colours!!

  4. What a wonderful project! It came out wonderfully.

  5. We made paper once...and its a ton of work..you make it seem simple..and your paper is gorgeous! I'm in AWE!

  6. Maybe it's the style of paper making kit I own? It actually was very, very easy. I think having a good supply of blotter paper and a fine rigid screen upon which to pour the pulp must be the keys. I've never done it any other way. Sherri, I hope you're inspired to try again. A friend of mine told me that some craft stores have the kits available. You might want to check them out. Good luck :)


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