I hope you are all staying safe and getting your craft on during this surreal lockdown time. I’ve been trying to reduce my footprint and also reduce the volume of material that gets thrown away or sent to recycling, not least because the recycling centre is of course, closed at the moment because of the lockdown. All the food waste goes into the compost bin, we switched to a flushable cat litter so no need to dispose that more, trying to reduce the number of items we buy in glass or tins, and trying to reuse/upcycle our cardboard. Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now is recycle the junk mail that comes in unbidden and seemingly unstoppable. So why should it be our responsibility to dispose of this stuff we didn’t ask for? It is something that annoys me greatly, and so I was sitting there one day ripping it up and thinking I should really make something useful out of this, and so I decided to make it into paper that I can use in my projects.
The papermaking process is really quite simple for basic paper, you need some kind of material that you can pulp and use to make your paper, and you need some basic tools to help you do that. I didn’t want to spend any money doing this and some equipment is needed, but I reckoned I could probably find things around the house that I could use and so that took some time thinking what I could substitute and then even more time trying to find them lol If you want to try this, here’s what you need.
an old blender
a mould and deckle (I used wooden frames and cat screening)
a big tub wide enough to dip the mould/deckle into
felt (I used eco-friendly recycled plastic felt since that’s what I had)
something heavy (I used kettlebells and then stood on it for a bit lol)
The mould and deckle are made from two matching wooden frames eg picture frames etc. I had some unused 30 x 40 cm canvases, so I took the canvas off and used those frames. My frames are just over A4 size as that’s all I had, if I had smaller A5 size I would have used that.
The mould needs some kind of mesh like fly screen or something similar. I had bought this cat window screening for the cats a few years ago and had some left over but of course when I looked for it I couldn’t find it lol. I did find this plastic canvas though and tried to staple it on but the staples cut through the plastic! I could probably have taped it on but instead I left it until I could find the cat mesh. If you were very careful you could try using just the plastic canvas to make the paper, as it is firm enough to dip into the paper slurry but you might have trouble levelling it out.
This project was on hold for a while as I tried to find the cat mesh, and after I had given up and was looking for something else that was missing, I found it! I stapled it on to one of the frames to act as the mould, and the other frame stays bare to act as the deckle.
The process is to tear up the junk mail into small pieces or use a shredder. Make sure to take any plastic off, eg window envelopes etc. as that will make holes in your paper. Leave it to soak in water for a few hours or overnight. Because I couldn’t find any staples to make my frame, mine was soaking for a week or so lol.
I have two blenders so I used the older one which leaks anyway. Fill the blender with water and then add a couple of handfuls of soggy paper, make sure not to overload the blender. Then dump it all into a big tub, add more water and give it a stir. Mine turned blue! There was quite a few of those envelopes that have a pattern on the inside to prevent people reading through the envelopes, and they were blue inside, but I didn’t really expect it to turn out that way, so that was a pleasant surprise – no need to colour my paper lol!
So you take your deckle (the frame with no mesh) and put it on top of the mould (the frame with mesh) and hold them together. Then you dip your mould/deckle in and scoop up the pulp, giving it a gentle shake to make sure it covers the whole area evenly.
Then dump it upside down (but carefully!) onto the felt sheets, put another felt sheet on top and repeat the process till there is none left. Put the stack of felt and paper between some boards and put something heavy on top to squeeze out water. This was the first one that I made and it does look a bit rough in the photo but I actually scraped it back into the tub and did it again. When you are transferring it from the mould to the felt sheet, think of it as a door opening and closing, and gently peel it off – rubbing the back of the mould also helps.
I did this on Saturday and left them overnight sandwiched between two bamboo chopping boards with a couple of heavy kettlebells on top. Yesterday was sunny, so I separated the felt sheets with the paper still stuck on them and hung them up in the sunroom to dry. Note that they are still quite wet and so the paper is stuck to the felt. You have to keep an eye on it as it dries it will start to want to fall off.
To speed up the drying process a little, you can give it a little push by using a hairdryer, which will also help to remove it from the wet felt.
I was then able to hang them up inside without fear of dripping everywhere, and left them till the following day.
Once the paper is dry, it is much lighter in colour and a little wavy, with that cool deckle edge!
To get rid of the wavy-ness and keep the deckle edge, give it an iron with a hot iron – no steam – and use a tea towel or an ironing cloth or any piece of fabric in between just in case you get a bit enthusiastic with iron and rip it!
And now I have paper! I can’t wait to use this in a project, I just need to give it some thought as I don’t want to waste it, but with a very small amount of junk mail, I got about 8 sheets of A4 size handmade paper for free!
From stash: everything mentioned in the post came from my stash lol
I started something new for April and continuing in May:
Since we are all stuck inside and can’t leave the house, I thought I would try and do two things:
1. use this time to finish any unfinished projects
2. use as much recycled materials as possible (I do this a lot anyway) but also not to buy new stuff!
So, with that in mind, I will note the above on any posts, if applicable.
UNFINISHED PROJECT – NO
RECYCLED MATERIALS – YES!