Friday, May 25, 2012

Making Homemade Paper from Trash- No Special Equipment

When I grew up, it was my job to take out the recycling on garbage day. I'd sort out the metal and plastic and glass recycleables and bring them to the tree lawn, then I'd put the newspapers and papers and cardboard boxes in a brown paper bag and put that in a separate pile on the tree lawn. Recycling is a little thing we can do to at least minimize the amount of damage we're doing to the environment on a daily basis.
Where I live, though, there is no recycling pick up, and without a car, its very hard for me to make it to the drop off points with all my stuff, yet each time I put something in the trash, I can just visualize the mountains of trash that we just keep on generating day after day.
I like to do my part and rescue as many things from the trash (and therefore landfills) as possible, and if doing that saves money in addition to be less bad for the environment, then that's even cooler.

This homemade paper is made entirely out of recycled old paper products, which means that when my kids want paper after paper after paper to color pictures, I don't need to keep filling up the waste basket with more and more trash; I can reuse their old pictures to make new paper.
The paper ends up being a bit thicker than regular paper, more like card stock than anything else. You can trim it to shape or leave it with rough edges for a "rustic" look.

So, here's how to make paper. And no, it doesn't use any special equipment, only things that most people already have in the house:

Making Homemade Paper

1. Gather paper or paper products. This can be anything from old drawings, shopping lists, cardboard, non Styrofoam egg cartons, magazines, catalogues, newspapers, etc...

2. Rip the paper into small-ish pieces and stick as much as you can in the food processor.

3. Cover the paper with water, let sit for 5 minutes, then blend up the paper as much as possible.

4. Add more and more paper to the food processor, let the paper soak in the water to soften (and adding more water as necessary), and then blend the paper until you get a uniform mixture. It'll most likely be gray. You may add a bit of food coloring or tempera paint at this point if you'd like it to be a different color.

5. Lay a piece of parchment paper down on a flat surface, on top of a larger towel. Place a blob of the paper mixture onto the parchment paper.

6. Lay another piece of parchment paper on top of the blob, then roll out as thin as possible with a rolling pin, making sure that you are getting a solid, yet thin sheet of paper pulp.

7. Peel off the top parchment paper, then fill in any of the holes in the sheet with more paper pulp, then roll down to flatten.

8, Take a large cloth napkin or thin, non terrycloth towel, and lay it flat on the paper pulp sheet. Using the rolling pin, roll the cloth on top of the paper pulp sheet, aborbing any excess moisture. Then carefully lift off the cloth.

9. Place the baking paper with the sheets of paper pulp on it in a place where it won't be disturbed. 

10. Leave for about a day, letting the top dry thoroughly, then flipping it over so it can dry on the other side.

11. Here's the lovely sheet of paper... Just needs to be trimmed!

Here's the paper cut a little bit more to size.

Note: You can make this type of paper prettier by putting some flower petals or glitter into the paper pulp just before you roll it out, or by putting paint or food coloring into it.

Now, in case you were wondering if this was worth the bother, if I make this all the time. The answer is- I don't know. I don't have so much space available to let it dry without having to worry about my kids knocking into it. If I had more space I probably would do it more. I do plan on doing it here and there... My kids did enjoy doing this with me.

Have you ever made homemade paper? How do you make it?
Do you have a good recycling program where you live? Do you ever try to take recycling into your
own hands?
Does this seem like something you would try out?


  1. I actually dried this in the oven on 200 a bit and a bit with the hairdryer. The high heat seems to whiten the paper a bit, and it doesn't seems any the worse for my experimenting,

  2. I did a handmade paper in the house. I must say that even comes out very cool these methods. It's easy just need to do them well. Meuse add to them a little gruel for wood to make it more durable. It can be done in several ways - I did this unusual http://www.open-youweb.com/how-to-make-paper/ recommend the latter. Thanks for the nice post.


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