So says Sarah…

Recycled hand made paper

Posted in About Life, Life with Child by Sarah Lipoff on 05/04/2010

The other day I couldn’t help myself from stumbling over the piles and piles of newspapers gathering dust in the corners of my home. My daughter had turned them into playthings, ripping and tearing the pages with glee. Her budding creativity was absorbed with the sound and feel of the paper changing shape from flat pages into curling shreds.

Making your own paper out of those old newspapers is easier than you think and a great way to re-use them in a fun creative way with your family (or on your own). You just need a couple basic materials and you can make decorative paper like you find – and pay for – in the craft store for free.

Get out a big bucket and have your kids help tear the paper into strips. It doesn’t matter how big or small the strips are, just enjoy tearing. Once you’ve shredded all you can shred, cover the strips of paper with water and let them relax overnight. The paper will absorb the water and start breaking down.

The next day, get everyone involved squishing and mushing the wet paper into small bits. You may need to add more water to create a nice slushy pulp. This gets a bit messy, but it sure is fun and a great opportunity to talk with your kids, explore texture, and create something lovely together.

If you would like to make colored hand made paper, try mixing a small amount of tempera paint into the paper pulp. Just remember, you can’t take the color out after it’s been added – so go slow.

Use an old window screen, either still in the frame or cut free, to create your paper. Place the screen on a flat sunny spot, like your driveway or patio. Pour the paper pulp over the screen and press and flatten the pulp with your hands to create an even layer.

Press bits of tissue paper, dried flowers, flower seeds, small bits of ribbon, or glitter into the paper. You can also create indentations with items, like sea shells, by pressing them into the wet paper pulp. Let the paper dry in the sun until the edges curl from the screen.

You can cut and use your hand made paper for anything such as decorating the front of a card, making a cover for a hand made notebook, or as decorative seat markers at your next dinner party. The possibilities are endless!