How To Make Recycled Paper

Using old paper around the house can make for an exciting craft. Whether you are doing it on your own or with your kids you can take the paper and make new craft paper. The paper can then be used for several different paper craft projects including making scrapbooks, cards, and even book marks.

Step 1

Gather up old paper. Any paper that doesn't have a wax coating (such as magazines or cereal boxes) can be recycled. You can choose items that have prints and color as well. Some ideas are used line paper, computer paper, old bills that you would normally shred, envelopes, sticky notes you don't need anymore, or boxes without a waxy coating. It should be noted that items with news print (such as the newspaper or the phone book) will have a gray color.

Step 2

Tear your paper into small pieces. Cutting your paper will damage more fibers which you will need in order to make good paper. Because of that tearing works best. Your paper should be in 1" strips up to about 4" long.

Step 3

Place paper in a pan and simmer with water. You will want enough water to cover the paper about 1". Simmer it. This process only needs to take five minutes or so for lightweight paper products. Using heavier materials will require more time.

Step 4

Blend mixture using a blender or a food processor. Blend quickly using short sessions of ten seconds. You don't want to over-blend or it will be harder to have solid paper because the paper fibers will be destroyed. You want a thick textured goop. You should be able to spread it out to dry, so you don't want it too thin. If you want it to look like it has paper chunks in it you can blend it less. You can also add small pieces of paper to the mix (which looks great with small pieces of colored paper torn up).

Step 5

Spread your paper out to dry. You have a lot of different choices for this and what you choose will lead to the texture of the paper that you make. Have fun and experiment with different types of materials for different textures.

  • Traditional methods. Use a screen to spread your paper out. This can be done with a clean old screen that isn't in a window. It can also be done with a picture frame that you attach new screen (available at hardware stores) to. A framed method will let you spread the paper into a rectangle shape. Other methods will create a round shaped piece of paper with jagged edges.
  • Plastic canvas. For an interesting texture you can spread your work out on plastic canvas. Topping it with a layer of plastic canvas and giving it something heavy to set on top of it will give it a texture to both sides.
  • Felt. You can squish your paper material between two layers of felt. This will give it a smoother texture than either screen or plastic canvas and is very inexpensive to do. If you want it framed then you can hook your felt to an inexpensive picture frame.
  • Other materials will work as well. You just need to have somewhere that it can dry. In the sun is fastest, but it depends on the weather.  

Once you have spread your plant material out on the material of your choice it is a good idea to squeeze the excess water from the paper for faster drying times. You can also use pieces of material to help absorb water and make the process faster.

Step 6

Optional-Get creative by adding things to your paper product. There are tons of different ways that you can get creative with your paper. Here are just a few of them, but try and think outside the box for fancy paper that is loads of fun to make and loads of fun to use. 

  • Add glitter. You can add glitter when you put the paper into the blender. The glitter will be blended with the materials and then will show up in the paper.
  • Add pressed plant material. Petals, leaves, flowers, and other pressed items make for great looks in your paper. Pour your paper materials into a bowl and mix in your plant material. Spread out as usual.
  • Beads and sequins. Add two tablespoons of white craft glue to the mix (for every 1-2 cups of paper and water). Blend together. Pour the mix into a bowl. Add your beads and/or sequins and mix with a wooden spoon. Spread out as usual. The glue won't change the final paper, but will help to hold the heavier weight of beads or sequins.
  • Dye. If you are using white paper or lightly colored paper your final product will be white or gray depending on the amount of print in the paper. You can dye the paper different colors. Use a few drops of food coloring during blending to see what colors you can get.

    Another option is to make homemade dye and use this. Use 1 tablespoon of salt or vinegar with your paper mix if using natural dyes. Place this in the mix during the simmering process. Then add your dye after your stuff is blended. Blend a few seconds longer and spread it out. (It may dye your tools, screens, plastic canvas, or material used in the paper making process). 

With so many options you can have a different looking paper each and every time. Have fun experimenting, trying new things, and getting the hang of making great paper quickly and easily.


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