Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Step Four: Making Paper

Hi Sylwi

I know I said this last week, but seriously, where's the time going?! :-) My posts are getting later and later! By the end of the year, I'll be posting on Sundays! ;-) This week, I'm late for all the right reasons, I'm glad to say! I had so much fun creating, I couldn't stop. I just kept coming up with more and more ideas. 

[I have to laugh at the irony of what I just said. I'm even later than I would have been because Blogger lost everything just as I published this post... so I had to start all over again. Sob!]

Anyway, back to the fun bit of today! :-)

This week's theme is recycling, again! This time, using old, unwanted paper and cardboard to make new, useful paper and cardboard.

There were so many ways I could have gone with this, so I just chose one and the others will have to be explored another day. I chose egg boxes to work with. I love the texture of them and the colours. My local farm shop takes some back, but I'm always left with a few they don't want, so instead of throwing them into the recycling bin, I wanted to find a way to give them new life.

There are so many different ways of making paper at home. A few years ago, I found a fantastic 'how-to' video for making paper out of junk mail, but unfortunately, I've lost the link. However, I did find this one from the 'Earthsavers Gang' on Facebook, which is just as cool... and actually shows you what a great project this is for kids. The gals in the video used screens which I think would give you awesome results. I don't have anything to make screens with, but I decided I wasn't going to let that stop me. :-) This is how I made it, just using what I already had at home.

First, I took an egg box, ripped it into pieces and placed them into my food blender - they about half filled it. Then, I filled the blender with warm water (about 2 parts water to 1 part paper) and buzzed it! If you don't put enough water in, you run the risk of blowing the motor on your blender, so better to put too much in, than too little.

Nobody said it was gonna look pretty! Ewww! :-) 

Once blended into a fine pulp, I poured the mix into a sieve and strained out the water. I squeezed the paper mix further into the sieve to remove any excess water and to flatten it a bit, then transferred it onto an old dishcloth. Covering the paper with another dishcloth, I used a rolling pin to flatten it more and squeeze out as much water as possible, then I gently put it onto a shelf above the radiator to dry overnight.

I found you could vary the texture of the paper you're making. For a bumpy texture, I used my fingers to flatten and shape it and for smooth, I pressed it on a counter top and left it there to dry out for a bit, before transferring to a radiator. The counter surface gives it a smoother finish. 

As it was drying, I started to see how many variations you can create. Next time, I'm thinking of adding little bits of gold thread, or dried petals and leaves. Or even seeds. If you were to use the paper for gift cards, once the recipient has finished with the card, they can just rip it up, push it into soil in their garden and water... the paper will decompose and the seeds will grow! :-) (that idea came from roundrobinpress on Etsy).

Once dry, I found I wasn't happy with the colour. I wasn't really thinking ahead when I began and had chosen a slightly off-yellow colour of egg box. In future, I would choose a brighter, cleaner colour. So, I decided to paint it white. My first attempt, didn't go too well. The paper absorbed the paint and it turned an even nastier colour! Gulp! :-) So, I ripped pieces of white, tissue paper and glued those on, then painted over it with white. 

I cut this first bit of paper into the shape of a gift tag, glued on some lovely hearts from an old birthday card (I'm still trying to find out the card artist's name - will add it when I find it!) I could just as easily have cut heart shapes from magazines or old photographs. Lastly, I used some gorgeous string which I bought from the beautiful and ever-inspiring gals over at Nice Package.

[Don't look too closely at the photo! I didn't have time to paint the back and sides of the tag! I also didn't have anything to use for a hole-punch, but you get the idea! :-) ]

Just as an experiment, I also made a ball out some of the paper pulp. I was curious to see if I could make beads from it. It seemed to work, although needs a bit more experimenting to get it perfect! The one I made reminded me of felted beads... speaking of which, I have to link to these exquisite beauties over at Stemellina Supplies on Etsy. :-)

I pushed a needle through the middle (once it was dry) to make a hole and then glued tiny pieces of ripped, tissue paper over it. 

I built up the colours with more tissue paper, then added a bit of gold pen! I really ran out of time today, so this was a rush job, but I'd love to spend more time exploring this idea.

The possibilities with these are END. LESS! ;-) I don't know how they would work as beads on a necklace - I guess you wouldn't want to get them wet... [unless you could set or harden them with varnish perhaps?] but as decorations for gifts, they would work really well. I didn't have time to experiment properly, but the thought of the all of the potential for these is so exciting! :-)

Sylwi, I can't explain how fun today has been. There just seems so much to discover, so much to DO!! I can't believe I've spent the last few years sitting around reading and thinking about all of these things, instead of making a weekly commitment with myself to just sit down and do them! What a lot of wasted time?! :-))) 

Anyway, sweet girl. I have to go back to normal life now. Clear up all of the colour and fun and step back into the grey, wet day that I can see outside my window. ha ha! :-))) Just kidding... it's not really that bad! 

Hopefully, this post isn't too full of typos and rambling. When I lost everything I'd written, I kinda lost my sense of humour too. I'm just hoping I can post now. Gonna try and see. Hope you're not experiencing the same problems...

Till next week, sweet girl.

Lots of love



  1. Making paper is one of my favorite things to do. It's been years! Also a great craft to do with kids, and a good time in the summer garden making a mess. I can't believe how colorful your egg cartons are!!!

    The gift tag is lovely! The bead is gorgeous. I would suggest varnish as a hardener, or even mod podge.

    For what it's worth. I didn't see anything wrong with that yellow. :)

  2. o yeah! making paper, soap, candles - all on my never-ending list... I agree with Lucinda about your colourful egg cartons (purple-pink is my favourite!!!) and about not seeing anything wrong with that yellow!

    I really like the tag you've made and somehow I thought that the ball will be attached to the tag. BTW, this ball is beautiful and cute.

    If I had a studio with enough space for different "station" I would devote one to making paper...



    P.S. love the pic with mixer!