I recently decided to get rid of a bunch of old notes, and other unneeded papers that had accumulated in my house. I contemplated just throwing them all in the recycling bin, but decided I wanted to reuse them in some sort of crafty way. Under my girlfriend’s instruction, and with my brother’s help, I learned how to make recycled paper.
1. Make a frame for draining the pulp. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I just nailed together four pieces of scrap wood, trying to make it as square as I could. Then I took an old window screen that I bought at the ReStore, and stapled a square of it to the bottom of my rudimentary frame.
3. Gather any scraps of unwanted paper you have. It shouldn't have a waxy or shiny finish to it. Newspaper will work, but your finished product will have a greyish tint to it. If you want coloured paper, try adding some construction paper.
5. Add between 2 and 3 cups of water, and blend thoroughly. Add a tablespoon of corn starch and a few sheets of ripped up (and unused) tissues/toilet paper/paper towel for a smoother, more pliable finished product. Continue blending until your pulp is the consistency of a smoothie. There shouldn’t be any little bits of paper visible at this point.
6. Fill a large tub with about 3 inches of water. Pour in your pulp, and stir. The ratio of pulp to water initially in the tub will depend on how thick you want your paper. At first, it’s best to err on the side of too much pulp, because it’s easier to add more water later.
9. When no more water easily comes out, flip the whole frame over, onto a tray to catch any water that remains. Shake it a bit, until the pulp and the fabric fall flat on the tray. If the paper is too thick, dump it back into the tub (without the fabric) add some water, and stir it all up again. If it is too thin, do the same thing, but add more pulp instead.
10. Repeat steps 7-9 as desired, stacking each sheet you make on the previous sheet, making a large pile of them.
11. When you have made as many as you want, put another square of fabric on top of the pile. I’ve found that to keep your paper flat as it dries, place something rigid and flat (like a scrap piece of wood) on your pile, and set something heavy on top of that.
12. Place your tray somewhere dry, and leave it undisturbed, checking it regularly, until the paper has no trace of moisture when you poke it. To speed up the drying process, you can run a fan over it, or set it next to a dehumidifier.
13. Congratulations on your paper!
A small tip that I recently learned the gross way: if you have pulpy water left over, it can be saved in a sealed container for later use. HOWEVER, don't save it too long; it gets unbearably foul. Try and use it as soon as possible. Throw it out (or ask your thoughtful brother to compost it) if it starts to smell unpleasant.