Monday, June 10, 2013

I Made Something: Recycled Paper

My current job is an office job. We have cubicles and meetings and access cards and photo IDs and all of that official stuff. It's actually not as stifling and dry as it sounds - but I have been very bothered by one aspect in particular. There is an absolutely INSANE amount of paper waste in the office. To the point where I'll get a packet of 10 pages of dispersed text stapled together for one meeting. Then three days later, when we get the updated version, another 10 pages of dispersed text. Do we actually do anything with it? No. We look at it during the meeting and make comments.

So yea. It drives me nuts. So I had this rad idea to try and feel better about it all... making my own recycled paper!

Here is a very brief explanation of how I did it. I do not recommend following this advice solely, as I have yet to perfect the technique. But this is a very basic run-through if you just want to do it as a fun hands-on activity on a nice day!

Start by ripping up your selection of papers you'd like to recycle. Avoid any materials that are waxy or coated, or any paper that has ink on it (I ripped around all the text that had been printed). Put it in a blender with some warm water. I filled the blender halfway with paper first, then filled most of the way with warm water. I also put in some mint leaves, because I thought that mint-smelling paper would be totally awesome. It didn't end up smelling of mint, but that's ok. It still added some super cool texture.

Blend it until it looks like one of those bizarre new health smoothies. The consistency should be about that of oatmeal (except, I read that online. I sort of just eyeballed it.).

I used 3 blender fulls of 'pulp' or paper juice, as I called it, then dumped it into a tub. I then added warm water to the tub until it was a bit more than halfway full. I took the operation outside because it does tend to get messy. You're also supposed to add some liquid starch to it if you want to write on the paper - it's supposed to keep the pen ink from bleeding. I only had corn starch. So I tried that. I have yet to test out writing on it though.

You're supposed to use a frame with window-screen type material over it, but I used a screen I had gotten from a screen-printing kit I never used. You slip it into your really lovely looking paper juice mix and shake it side to side until the pulp looks evenly distributed. Then you slowly lift it out as flat as possible. This is definitely the hardest part, and I still don't understand how the paper pulp works yet. But that's ok, I still got some decent results.

Allow the paper to drip water back into the tub as much as possible, then flip it paper side down onto a cloth laid atop a cookie pan. From the backside of the screen, press out as much water as possible with a sponge. I also had trouble here, as my paper did not come off the screen as I pulled it off like the internet said it would. So I got a handy dandy hair dryer, dried it more, and then slipped a few fingers under the edge, and sort of guided the paper onto the cloth. This resulted in a lot of rips and accidents. But I was too impatient. Oh well.

 My final result was still totally exciting even if it was far form perfect! I love the natural, rough, textural quality of it. I'm so so so excited to experiment more with paper making and to really perfect my technique ;)! It's a very therapeutic experience in many ways. Much like any activity working with your hands and creating can be!

Have any of you guys tried making paper before? How did your process differ from this one? I'm really curious about the different ways to make recycled paper! It's so much fun and so rewarding to see all the paper that got wasted turned into something new and beautiful!



  1. This is actually so cool, whoa!

    Check out my blog and comment plze and thankyou!

  2. Amazing! I remember doing this with my mom when I was little. Now I want to try it again!

  3. Love this, Katia! My friend used to make really cool paper with different leaves and flowers in it and she used it for hand-written letters. I'd love to try making it, too, at some point. Good job!

  4. I made some in Girl Scouts years ago, but yours turned out so much better! Maybe Solé could start selling custom notebooks? :P Thanks for sharing. Your paper looks gorgeous!

  5. Oh my goodness...this is awesome Katia! I never even thought to make my own recycled paper...always thought it was something that had to be done in a factory. Inspiring. I want to dig some supplies out and try making some right now :-)

  6. What!! How cool is this!? I've got to try it, thanks for sharing! So glad I found your blog today! Happy to be a new follower :)


  7. This is really cool. I took a class last semester in school and we made paper. Your method is like the short hand, do-it-at-home version!

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  9. The paper you made looks awesome! I have seen so many tutorials for this and always wanted to try it, by I never got to it. I think it would take quite a lot of time but it's good that you're trying not to waste paper!