Paper Sheet

Making Paper

This is a very messy activity and should be done outside in warm weather!!

Ingredients

Papermaking frame
Liquidiser
Bucket
Large, deep tray – cat litter tray is ideal
Vilene – medium weight and sew-in type, not the iron-on
Old blanket or towel
Two pieces of flat board
Old paper – just about anything except glossy. Newspaper will do, but the paper you produce will be grey

Please read the safety warning before you start. Shred the paper into small pieces and place in the bucket. Cover with hot water and leave to stand – preferably overnight, but for at least a couple of hours.

Swirl the mixture around with your hand and then whizz a couple of mugfuls at a time in the liquidiser for about 30 seconds. Pour the pulp into the cat litter tray until it is around 1″ – 2″ deep. Add water to the pulp until the volume is roughly trebled – this bit is very much trial and error, and you will get better at judging it as time goes on.

Get your felts ready. Cut the vilene into pieces about 2″ bigger all round than the frame. Fold the blanket/towel into a thin, smooth cushion and put one piece of vilene on top of it.

Now for the tricky bit. Don’t be disheartened if it takes a few goes before you have the knack. Standing in front of the tray, swirl the mixture with your hand, then hold the frame in front of you, net-side facing. Using one smooth movement, lower the frame edge first into the tray, turn it through 90 degrees, then lift straight up. Jiggle it gently from side to side to spread the pulp evenly. You should now be looking at a very wet piece of paper.

If it looks too thin and patchy, scrape it back into the tray and add more liquidised pulp. If it is very thick and lumpy, add more water. Hold the frame until it stops dripping – once the pulp has settled, tilt it towards one corner to speed things up.

Tricky bit number two – again, it may take a bit of practice. Standing in front of the prepared piece of vilene on its blanket, roll the frame across it in one smooth movement: down on to its long side, splat on to the vilene, straight up on to its other side. With a bit of luck, you will have left your piece of paper behind on the vilene! If it hasn’t gone to plan, scrape it back into the tray and try again.

Put a second piece of vilene on top of the paper and repeat the process until you have built up a stack of 5 pieces. Cover the last piece with more vilene. Transfer the stack to a piece of board, place the second board on top and press down very firmly. You can even stand on it, but don’t jump up and down or it may break the paper! When all the water has come out, remove the stack from the boards and separate each piece, complete with its vilene backing. Spread it out to dry in the sun. Once it is dry, carefully peel it from the vilene, which can then be washed and re-used.

To make your frame, you need

Sturdy picture frame
Piece of plain, nylon curtain net
Staple gun.

Please read the safety warning before you start. Cut a piece of net about 2″ bigger all round than the frame.
Staple the net to the sides of the frame, keeping it as taut as possible.