Whenever the human race faces a problem that they are unable to solve, they come up with stories to tackle the problem till they have a solution. Most of present day superstitions, which seem illogical now, have their origins in quest to tackle a problem for which the resolution was unknown. One such problem we are confronted with right now is environment degradation.
We have been degrading environment since a long time. Sustained period of environment exploitation has manifested itself in visible impacts like climate change. While we are now aware of the results of continual exploitation of the environment, there is little we are doing or can do to stop it and we must in our small ways take conscious care of our surroundings.
This is not a rant or a article about how we should go to Antarctica and save the dying penguins but a small and fun effort to recycle paper. Looks pretty, helps mother earth and is a lot of fun!.
We at home keep making small efforts to decrease our environment imprint as much as we can by reusing waste water, using paper or cloth bags and keeping oxygen plants, etc. One thing which we couldn't do much about is the way waste paper is thrown away, till we discovered how SIMPLE and fulfilling it is to make hand-made paper at home. We learnt this in our recent trip to Kerala and have been hooked since. Hence this DIY!
We would be super happy if you guys want to try this at home and even happier to send you a DIY kit. You can place your order by writing to us.
Things required -
- Waste paper, even newspaper works!
- Wooden mould and deckle (ideally A4 or A5 size) - Deckle is a wooden frame with steel wire mesh and the mould is a equal-sized wooden frame
- Two wooden planks - (A4 or A5 size)
- Muslin cloth approximately same size as the wooden planks
- Grinder, regular kitchen mixer grinder will do!
- Plastic Tub – Should be bigger than the mould and deckle
- Water (Don’t worry, the water will be reused)
- Something heavy to press the paper
- Some embellishments like confetti, dried leaves, dropped flowers!
Lets get to it!
- SOAKING: Shred the waste paper into palm size pieces and soak them overnight in water. Once you get the taste of making own paper, it is advisable to designate a bucket where all waster paper of the household goes for soaking.
- GRINDING: Grind the overnight soaked paper with water in the grinder. Typically, grinding for 15-20 seconds in sufficient water does the trick. You should end up gooey mix of paper and water.
- SHEETING: Get the tub, half filled with water. Water plays an essential role in levelling the gooey paper to a thin level layer of paper. Snap the mould and deckle together and completely immerse it in the tub. It is essential that the deckle is at least 2 cm below the water level.
Take a mug of the gooey paper and pour it in the mould. If you wish to have any embellishments in the paper, now is the time to add them in the mug with the gooey paper. We used a mixture of marigold, white wreath and small pieces of confetti or glitter. Slowly lift the mould-deckle outside the tub and rest on the plain surface. You will observe a thin sheet of paper on the deckle screen and the excess water draining off. Lift the mould and let the deckle rest for few seconds.
- COUCHING: Take one of the wooden planks and place one piece of muslin cloth on it. Turn the deckle upside down and place on the cloth. Tap (and not drag) the back of the deckle with another piece of cloth so that the sheet of wet paper separates from the deckle screen. Slowly lift the deckle leaving a beautiful thin sheet of wet paper on the cloth.
Initially, it is advisable to make thick paper, i.e. pour large quantity of gooey paper in the deckle during SHEETING, so that the paper easily separates from the deckle screen during COUCHING. As you become a paper making expert, you can decrease the thickness of paper.
- PRESSING: Place another piece of cloth on the sheet of wet paper and cover with the other wooden plank (we have used a leaf while pressing for a pretty leaf emboss on the paper). The setup is ready for pressing. Ideally, a hydraulic press is suitable but for this DIY you can use exercise weights, a heavy flower pot, books, or place the setup under a heavy chair for 30 seconds. At least 20-25 kgs should be used!!!
Pressing with sufficient weight is crucial to remove excess water from the paper which also allows the color of the paper to come through and giving strength to the paper.
- DRYING: Remove the outer plank, piece of cloth and the leaf slowly and let the paper dry in sunlight. If you are in a hurry, use any regular iron or a hairdryer for quick drying! Once dried, peel the paper from the cloth and wallah!!! You have made your own paper :D
To make many sheets of paper, prepare multiple sheets of wet paper and layer them on top of each other in the COUCHING step. All layers will be PRESSED and DRIED together. You can make as many sheets of paper in one go as many pieces of cloth you have!!!
Once you get the hang of it, it takes only 2-3 minutes to go from SHEETING to DYRING step. SOAKING and GRINDING should be done in batches.
Experiment with different types of waste paper – for instance, newspaper will give you a grey shaded paper due to the ink. Try different embellishments - flowers, confetti and glitter. It is also possible to emboss prints on the paper – for instance, place a dry leaf or any stencil of a fun shape on the wet sheet of paper during PRESSING. You can easily make colored paper as well, just add the desired acrylic color to the gooey mix of paper and water.
You can proudly use paper made by yourself for everyday purpose --> a great way to impress others plus do an interesting activity with kids, teaching them the importance of environment protection.
While most equipment is readily available at home, the mould, deckle and wooden planks might be difficult to make. As mentioned earlier we are open to getting them manufactured and you can place orders for the kit by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org (think of hand-painted moulds with monogram embossed :D) So coming Sunday, do this activity! We guarantee you will most definitely enjoy this!