project and photography by Tanya Collier
Transform your scrap paper into something truly beautiful and unique. Handcrafting your own recycled paper is super satisfying and surprisingly simple!
The circle-shaped deckle and mould offers a fun alternative to the traditional format and is the perfect size for creating beautiful hand-lettered stationery for your next special celebration.
A wonderful weekend project that will be enjoyed by all ages.
you will need...
+ scrap paper
+ 2 x 7” embroidery hoops
+ blender (make sure it's an old one!)
+ deep dish/basin a little larger than your hoops
+ felt/cloth for couching
+ towels for cushioning
step 1 - rip and soak your paper
Rip your scrap paper into small pieces about 2cm square. We created 15 sheets of circle paper with a half a bucket of ripped paper.
Cover the paper pieces with water and mix well. Soak them for two to three hours, or until the pieces breaks apart easily. Warm water will make this process a little quicker.
step 2 - create your deckle & mould
While your paper is soaking you can get to work creating your deckle and mould. The deckle and mould are essential tools for paper making. The mould is a frame covered with fabric or screening and will be used to catch the paper pulp. The deckle is an open frame, the same size, which will create the papers edge.
We’ve used embroidery hoops with calico fabric to create our circle-shaped deckle and mould.
To create your mould simply dampen the calico fabric and stretch it into one of the embroidery hoops and tighten. The inside frame of the second embroidery hoop will be used as your deckle.
step 3 - turn your paper pieces into pulp
After a few hours have passed, check on your paper. When it breaks down between your fingers, it is ready to turn into pulp. Grab a handful and squeeze the water from it and fill a cup measure with it.
Place the cup of paper into your blender. Add three cups of water. Put the lid onto your blender and pulse two or three times, then blend for approx 30 seconds, until all the paper pieces are completely broken down.
Fill your basin three quarters full with water. Pour the paper pulp from your blender into the basin of water and stir to combine.
Give the mixture a quick stir to ensure the pulp is evenly dispersed. Gather your towels and couching cloths ready for the paper making process. Stack towels first, then pop your first couching cloth on top.
Holding the deckle on top of the mould, begin sliding them into the pulp mixture, until they are sat evenly under the water. Slowly raise them up and hold level, allowing the excess water to drip back into the basin for 20 to 30 seconds.
step 4 - couch it
Remove the deckle from the mould and carefully flip it over onto a couching cloth. Press down, then remove the mould, leaving the pulp on the cloth.
Repeat until you have used all the pulp in your basin.
Stack the cloths with pulp on top of each other and cover the top layer with another cloth. Place the stack between two flat boards (such as bread boards) and sit on top (or place heavy books on top) to squeeze out excess water.
step 5 - dry it
Once you have squeezed out all the excess water, separate the cloths and lay them flat, out in the sunshine or somewhere warm, to dry.
When it's dry, your sheet of paper will peel cleanly away from the couching cloth.
To ensure it is completely dry, leave overnight before writing on your paper.
+ the best paper to use for this project is old photocopy paper. Newspaper and old phonebooks can be used, but the end result won’t be quite as lovely.
+ avoid glossy papers as they don’t break down as easily and can result in paper that is difficult to write on.
+ if using white paper with black print, your paper will turn out greyish in colour. We created this lovely lilac colour by adding a single sheet of red paper to the initial mix!
+ for something different, try adding glitter for sparkle or include a little nature by adding pressed flowers or leaves to the mix.
+ to speed up the drying process, place each sheet of paper between two cloths and iron dry.