Handmade Paper
It's April 18th and it's still so cold in New Jersey, it's hard to get psyched to do yard work. But I did have fun today with a little craft project which is perfectly suitable for children of all ages to enjoy. Handmade paper is easy and you probably have all the ingredients you need to make it on hand. With a little imagination, handmade papers would make a beautiful and thoughtful Mother's Day gift for all gardeners .

The equipment you'll need is
A blender- One with a pulse action is preferred, but any blender or food processor will do.

A bag of shredded paper- This is an opportunity to recycle any type paper except the cellophane windows which come with bills and cardboard (you could use card board if you wanted to soak it over night to soften). Newspaper, copy paper, envelopes,  advertisements- it can all be shredded. I used new copy paper because I wanted my finished paper as white as it could be. Recycled paper with print, designs or illustrations will lend the ink to the paper you are making, creating various shades of gray. If you don't have a shredder, rip the starter paper into small pieces, maybe about an inch square.

Dried or fresh flower petals- I have lots of "crumbs" from my farm grown dried flowers which work perfectly in this project. You may have some old potpourri, or a fresh flower arrangement which could be dismantled. Lavender buds scent the paper and smell wonderful. Plant material should be small- crumple leaves and pull flowers from stems and centers, just using the flower petals.

Screens- The round ones in the photo above are ideal- I think they're meant to catch bacon grease. But I also made (pictured above) a rectangular  screen by sandwiching a piece of screen between 2 pieces of lathe and stapling from both sides.

Large towel, glass or pitcher for adding water to the blender, cookie cutters and later, scissors and maybe some ribbon.

 Start out by adding handfuls of shredded paper to the blender until it is 3/4 full- do not compact. Add water until it is about 2/3rds full- the paper will go down. Pulse until the paper is pulpy. It should have the consistency of cooked oatmeal. Be mindful of the thickness because the blender motor will fail if it's too thick. You can add more paper if it is too sloppy.

Add some flower petals and/or leaves- maybe about 2-3 tablespoons- and pulse quickly to incorporate. They don't need to be chopped.

Put the screen over a large bowl to catch excess water and pour the paper pulp onto the screen. It should be about 1/4" thick. Lightly smooth the pulp so it is even.

Cover with the second screen and press to get most of the water out. If you run your fingers from the center of the screen to the outer edge and turn it over and do it again, most of the liquid will be gone.

Press the screens between a heavy towel to get more liquid out.

And that's paper! It takes 24 or more hours to dry or 15 minutes or so with a hairdryer. The paper may curl as it dries, but can be flattened by ironing with  a steam iron (if you've added lavender buds, you'll love the smell as you iron).
The paper can be cut into book marks, cut into cookie cutter shapes and glued on magnets for the fridge or cut into note card sizes. The paper would also be a nice memory book cover for a special person. 

Or you can make planting papers with annual seeds.

 Before you press the pulp with the towel (but while it is still on the screen,  not like shown in photo), impress the paper with a cookie cutter- hearts and stars work well, but any shape is fun. Put 3 seeds inside each outline- marigolds, zinnias, petunias or herbs all work well. Cover each seed with a small dab of liquid paper- I just get a few finger tips full from the blender. When you cover the screen with screen 2 and press with the towel, the seeds will imbed in the paper and you won't see the little dabs. It will all flatten out.


I packaged mine in little cellophane bags with labels giving planting instructions. I'm always on the lookout for something to include with birthday or greeting cards and these fit nicely into a greeting card with no postage upcharge. 

It is funny to me, to make paper from paper. But the addition of flowers, leaves and maybe seeds makes a beautiful artisan paper so we should make a new name for it. Any suggestions?

Please share this post with friends who like DIY, gardening and country life.
Thank you!
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