Paper Making and Recycling

Have you ever wondered how paper is made? Paper is made from cellulose, or fibers from plants. Fibers are little hair-like particles that latch on to each other. When you tear a piece of paper, look at the edge. It looks kind of fuzzy. Those are the fibers!

Paper is made up of tons of tiny fibers all holding onto each other. Today, we’re going to see how it works and make our own paper! Read on for the supply list and step-by-step instructions (with lots of pictures!). (For video instructions, watch here)

To make your own paper, you will need:

3 pieces of paper (different colors or patterns mix together for a cool finished product)

A box

Push pins

Mesh screen

Plastic container with lid

Warm water

First, let’s tear up our paper. This project is a great opportunity to recycle paper scraps and make something new! Since paper is made from plants, it’s important to recycle it whenever we can so we don’t have to keep cutting down trees to make new paper. Instead, we can recycle and reuse old paper!

When ripping your paper, make sure your pieces are very small – less than one inch big. This ensures that there are lots of exposed fibers that will later grab onto each other. As you tear, throw your paper pieces into your plastic container.

Once you’ve ripped through all three pieces of paper and have all your scraps in your container, pour about 1 ½ cups of warm water into the container. Make sure all the paper is wet, but don’t fill up your container all the way!

Put the lid on your container and shake! This is called agitating. Both the warm water and the agitation will help the fibers stick together.

Your paper scraps need to soak in the container for 1-2 days, and you’ll need to agitate it regularly. Check on it every 1-2 hours and give the container a good shake.

While you’re waiting for your paper scraps to soak, assemble your drying screen. Lay your box out with the screen over the top. Use push pins to secure your screen. Make sure the screen is tight over the box by pulling the screen as you put in the push pins. Set this aside until your paper scraps are ready.

To tell if your paper scraps are ready, open the container and feel the paper. It should feel pulpy and gooey – kind of gross, but that means it’s perfect! Get your drying screen and take small bits of your pulpy paper in your hands. Spread the paper over the screen, trying to make a rectangle (it won’t be perfect, but that’s okay!). Don’t squeeze out the water as you do this, and make sure not to pack it too thick on your screen. Just a thin layer will work fine. Be sure to fill in any holes and thin patches as you go.

Once all of your paper pulp is on your screen, pour the rest of your water over the paper (It’s best to do this part in or near the sink, or over a few folded towels for easy clean up – the water will leak through your box). There are still little fibers in the water, and this will make sure they’re all collected on your paper. Use your plastic container to shape the edges and gently smooth over your paper.

Now your paper needs to dry. This could take 1-2 days. Set it aside somewhere safe and keep an eye on it. When it looks dry, carefully try to lift it off the screen. If it comes off right away, it’s finished! If it’s hard to pick up or tries sticking to the screen, set it back down and give it more time to dry.

You learned how to make paper! Your homemade paper can be used for anything – write a letter, draw on it, make a card. The possibilities are endless.

I’d love to see how your paper turned out! Send a picture of your finished project to @thewinklecrate on Instagram or Facebook, and follow me for more fun STEAM activities like this one. I also have tons of fun projects on my YouTube channel and Pinterest.

Have fun!

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