How To Make Beautiful Handmade Paper

handmade paper

This is another one of those crafts I have always had a hankering to do but thought it just looked too difficult. Boy oh boy, I could NOT have been more wrong on this one! Not only was it EASY as pie, it was probably one of my favorites yet! Taking scrap paper that would normally go in the recycle bin and making BEAUTIFUL handmade paper with it?!?? I loved everything about this paper craft. I hope you will too!

As I usually do, I looked at dozens of tutorials for making handmade paper to try and get a handle on the whole thing. Once again, it seems there are as many methods as there are fish in the sea! ;-)  So I picked and chose the ones that seemed to make the most sense to me….and here is my take on it.

 

handmade paper

This is all you need to make handmade paper:

  • 6-8 pieces of scrap paper
  • a large, shallow container
  • a blender
  • 2 screen splatter guards 
  • a sponge
  • a dry dish towel
  • water

I saw a lot of tutorials online that involved cutting a piece of screen to fit an old frame and then attaching it to the frame edge with tacks…but the chances of me getting to the hardware store to buy some screening, cutting it, and tacking it to a frame were pretty remote…so I used what I had. Two screen splatter guards that I bought at the grocery store for about 3 bucks each. They worked brilliantly!

Sure the paper ends up being “round”, but you can CUT it any shape you like when it’s dry! :-)

handmade paper

Start with 6 to 8 pieces of scrap paper. I had some bills, junk mail, etc laying around so I grabbed that and tore it up into smallish pieces. Mine were about 1 inch wide by about 2 or 3 inches long. Roughly.

 

handmade paper

Throw the paper in your blender and cover with hot tap water. Let it sit for a few minutes. I managed to wait about 10 to 15 minutes.

Then PULSE the paper/water mixture in your blender a few times until you get a slurry that looks like this:

handmade paper

My Blendtec made the paper into slurry in literally less than 5 pulses. Depending on the power of your blender, this will vary.

 

handmade paper

In the meantime, fill your large, shallow container (I used a disposable aluminum roasting pan from the grocery store) with a couple of inches of water. The containers just needs to be big enough to accomodate one of the screen splatter guards.

 

handmade paper

Then add your paper slurry to the water and mix it up.  This is going to be your paper…eventually!

 

handmade paper

Take one of your screen splatter guards and submerge it in the slurry mixture……..

 

handmade paper 9

……and then slowly bring it up out of the mix, holding it as level as you can, until it is evenly covered. You might have to try it a couple of times before you get a nice, even coverage.

 

handmade paper

Once it’s evenly covered, place the screen with the wet paper mixture on it onto a dry dish towel………

 

handmade paper 11

……..and then cover it with the other screen splatter guard.

 

handmade paper

Take your sponge and pat it down firmly all over the screen to soak up as much excess water as possible. Squeeze the excess water in the sponge back into the container with the slurry mixture, and keep doing that until you have most of the water out.

 

handmade paper

Remove the top screen and place the paper-covered screen somewhere to dry. OR, if you are impatient LIKE ME…you can get your hair dryer out and dry it in about 10 to 15 minutes! The only problem with drying it with the hair dryer is that it won’t dry as FLAT as it will if you just let it air dry, which really isn’t a PROBLEM because I just ironed mine flat before I used it in a project.

I tried drying the paper both ways. The air drying took about 4 to 6 hours…but keep in mind I live in a VERY DRY climate.

That is the basic process for making your own handmade paper!

Now that you know the basics…you can really have some fun jazzing your paper up! If you want to add flowers…that’s super easy to do as well.

handmade paper

I just happened to have a bouquet of fading Valentine’s Day flowers that I was able to scavenge some clippings from and after chopping them up finely, I tossed them into the paper slurry. The above picture shows how the paper turned out with the flowers mixed in. LOVE!!!

 

handmade paper

This was such a great weekend project. I ended up making about a dozen sheets of handmade paper AND some other fun things……that you are going to have to come back TOMORROW to see! :-)

But here’s a sneak peek…..

handmade paper

Let’s just say I have wedding plans on the brain……….. :-)

 

Have you made handmade paper before??

 


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Comments

  1. wendy says

    the timing of this post couldn’t be more perfect! I homeschool & wanted to make paper with my sons as part of our next unit–we’re studying newspapers–but couldn’t find a tutorial that made it easy enough to tackle with kids. Thank you, Jillee!!

  2. Michelle says

    If anyone wants to buy cheap paper making kits either for kids or craft, go to Arnold grummer online. I live in Australia and these are American, but they are the best product you can get – and I worked in a hand made paper factory for 2 years!

  3. Sherri McNeeley says

    Try adding some wildflower seeds onto the paper as it dries. Then the recipients of your note, placecards, gift tag, thank-you or whatever can plant the paper and have a living memento of your event. Keep up the good work, Jillee!

  4. karen farmer says

    Go clean out your dryer vent and add to your slurry ~ you’ll get some nifty little fibers ~ I like to use raffia as an accent on my handmade papers, either as a small bow, pretty tie for a stack of cards, etc.

  5. Jennifer says

    When my kids were in elementary school they had an art special one year where they all got to make homemade paper. I got to help out and learn the process. Later I picked up a paper making kit at a kids toy store. I use scraps from my scrapbooking stash to remake paper for cards and such. I did make some with flower seeds in it last summer. It is such a fun project.

  6. Yvonne says

    If you have some thin wire lying around, make it into a frame or small shape (heart?) and lay it in the wet paper on the screen. The rust stain bleeds out into the paper and you have the raised shape of the wire too!

  7. April says

    Yes i have at school a long time ago. But it was fun i would love to do this with 16 year old daughter who loves paper and journals. thanks for the tutorial! I would like to add if you go to the 1 dollar store the they have spalter sheilds for a dollar each

  8. Cheri says

    What a cool post, Jillee! Why do I remember the paper we made in school so long ago as being very stiff and unflexible? lol Yours looks so professional!! What was your secret to being able to fold it in half as a place card and printing on it? Did you just let it dry and then run it through your printer?

    • tina says

      I was wondering if you could dry the paper in your dryer on the sweater rack on low speed. A dehydrator is a great idea. I can’t wait to try this with the kids. We have plenty of paper but I’ll need a few more supplies from the dollar store i.e. the splatter guards, sponge, and embellishments. Super excited

    • Terri says

      wow, thanks for the heads up—though maybe not so bad if it soaks for a long time and becomes mushy?!
      perhaps a good idea to get a cheap blender just for this purpose if one is going to do it very often.

  9. Michelle C. says

    I made paper with some beautiful green lint from the dryer added into the mix. Everyone loved it. I put my wet paper up on the windows of my kitchen to dry. Made a big mess on the windows but it was easily cleaned off but it was a great space saver to keep them off of the table. They didn’t curl when dried either since they were “plastered” flat on to the window.

    I have yet to try this one: If you add some hair conditioner to the paper recipe….you can make your own toilet paper. I’d guess it would have to be thinner. I totally plan on making my own TP out of old office scraps and old newspaper. Not to sound too gross….but it isn’t something that i’d get used to flushing. It is something that we’ll plan on making and saving for the future, if things get bad.

    • Terri says

      toilet paper is made to fully dissolve quickly in sewer systems so as not to clog your drains…i’d worry about using anything not specially made for household plumbing…but maybe it’d be ok for use in an outhouse (hee hee)!

  10. Gail says

    Paper making is one of my all-time favorite crafty things to do. You can make pure cotton paper, colored paper, even paper using DRYER LINT. Waste nothing! LOL

    If you use thicker base material – cotton works well – you can even sculpt or mold the pulp. I have made three dimensional pieces that I painted with watercolors when dried and framed in shadow boxes. Once you get started you will think of hundreds of ways to play with your paper!

  11. Jewel says

    Jillee, I serendipitously found your site in December. It has been such an inspiration to me. It has been so much fun catching up on all your old posts and being inspired to do fun things with my six kiddos. I love to do crafts, but most of the books we have and projects I’ve found require a trip to the store for things I don’t have to make something we don’t really need, thus they rarely get done. Your ideas are not only useful, they are usually simple, inexpensive and use common things I usually have or wouldn’t mind purchasing because the end result is so beneficial. Thank you for all you do! You have inspired this tired mom to get back to doing what I love. Being creative.

    I have made homemade paper several times. When I was young, we would take wire hangers and shape them into squares, hearts, etc. and then cover with tights or sturdy hose to make the screens.

    Recently, I purchased a kit at a resale and used that with the kiddos. They loved it, but your method seems better, because we were limited to a paper size of about 5×7 with the kit.

    Joyce, I do not recommend the dehydrator for drying. We were impatient and thought that would speed the process up. It did, but the air currents made the paper curl up. The only way I could get it to flatten was to mist with water and press under a heavy book. Ironing may have worked, but the paper we made was very textured and I didn’t want to lose that quality. A warm oven might do the trick, though.

  12. says

    I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time, just haven’t gotten around to it. And yes! What Sherri McNeeley said! I know a lady/artist thawe used to live next to. She gathered lint from her dryer, mixed in some flower bits, semi dried it and formed it to her sons face! She then set it carefully down and let it dry. Cool!
    *hugs*deb

  13. CTY says

    Jillee–I have wedding on the brain too. Do you have some news to share? I am planning & making my sons wedding table decorations & thank yous etc–even though he doesn’t have a steady girlfriend.
    Sherry Mc–I must say adding the seeds was my first thought. A popular wedding favor are seed bombs; balls of seeds made for people to toss in their flower beds or a public place that can use some flowers. These look way easier/cooler and can also serve the purpose of table seating cards–mini menus etc. I noticed large canisters of seeds at places like Home Depot for about $20– they even have a butterfly garden mix. Bet the Dollar Store will have a seed mix too.
    PS I think Paper Crafts are my new love.

  14. Kathy Keeney says

    As a former 4-H and Horticulture Agent for Cooperative Extension, I’ve had to be creative for many years in coming up with crafts kids may do easily and still have a MESSAGE to them. I’ve done the homemade paper using plastic canvas frames, photographer’s steel plates, and a squeegee ( courtesy of my husband with the photojournalism degree!), but have added a nice twist to it by adding both annual and perennial flower or tree seeds to it, so the paper may then be used to bring some “Extra Beauty” to the recycling project!

    The paper can be drawn upon, cut, colored, or made into origami, depending on the skills of the child or young adult participating. It’s great for Arbor Day, Earth Day, Recycling Projects, or just a fun thing for anyone to do to make a recycling project a little “MORE” than the usual.

    Since you have a weeding coming up, you might replace the blotter papers in the invitations with this, or toss in some Heart cutouts in each envelope with a clever phrase, so those who plant their special paper will then have a beauty patch to remind them of the happy couple!

  15. says

    I love doing this with kids, it’s a great summer camp activity. I go out into a field with kids and they pick some wildflowers, clovers, etc. for use in our paper creations. You can also use herbal tea bags…cut them open and use the contents to make beautiful, and Nice Smelling paper (think vanilla hazelnut, mint, etc.) You can also use colored paper and create pulp in different colors and creature paper both various colors by adding a bit of colored pulp to the screens before removing them from the water. You can make all kind of designs…it’s called “pulp painting”

  16. Terri says

    i cut up my own ‘scratch paper’ from anything not written on, and especially like finding colored paper to use (often found on junk mail envelopes). now, i’ll save the whole colored envelope to use to tint my own paper!
    i’d think one could also just add some drops of food coloring to the slurry mixture to get a desired color, hmmm?

  17. Suzyq says

    I have had the pleasure of learning the art of paper making from two very skilled friends. Both have said that it is very important to get a separate blender than one that you use for food. Some papers have chemicals in them that you would not want “leaching” into your food. No matter how good the blender is cleaned, the chemicals can linger in the plastic parts. I went to my local Goodwill store and picked up a blender for about $5.00.
    Another great thing to add to the slurry is coffee grounds. It really looks nice and gives it a great texture. You can also use eggshells, and who knows what else. We made a little swatch book and labeled each swatch with what we used so we could re-create the ones we liked best. I did this with a group of about 12 friends, and we paired up and shared a blender and helped each other make a sheet, and then swapped sheets as well. This is a fun project and recycling at its best.

      • Beth says

        Acid free paper is only important for paper you want to use with photographs or paper you need/want to keep for many years.. Acid destroys the photos over time. Any thing you want to archive should be printed and connected only to acid free paper, non-acid free paper deteriorates over time.

  18. Tabitha says

    Oh I’m definitely doing this one, too (along with the dryer balls I need to make this week and whitening our pillows). I once started to make my own paper… in 3rd grade :) It was a class project to make for our moms for homemade Christmas gifts, but some kids were so crazy that my teacher just said forget it, and wouldn’t let us finish! I remember crying because I knew my mom would love it. The teacher had said we would just have to tell our moms that we didn’t have a gift for them at Christmas time because some kids don’t know how to control themselves. Talk about sad!

  19. gail says

    i’m wondering if i can use cotton fabric scrapes from my quilting? does it have to be paper from paper or can it be paper from fabric? i could use my rotary cutter and cut it into tiny pieces. maybe if i have to use paper, i could add some tiny pieces of fabric for more color and texture? i also was wondering if i can add thread pieces or just lay different thread colors on top of the drying slurry? i love all your posts jillie and i’ve always wanted to make some beautiful paper but thought it was too complicated. your recipe looks easy enough so now i’m going to give it a go.

  20. Cynthia says

    I have had the idea in my head for a long time now to use homemade paper for my wedding invitations and things. I’ve never made it before, but I know it’s easy.
    I can’t wait to see what else you have made with the paper. This is definitely fueling my ideas for my own wedding plans!

  21. says

    Love your paper Jillee, very pretty!

    FYI: you can purchase splatter screens at the dollar store for $1 each and they are the same size as regular ones.

    FYI: some food, plant or feather products, ie: coffee grounds, seeds, real feathers, etc… can’t be mailed internationally to some countries, so check before mailing.

  22. Katrina says

    Thank you! I have made paper before, and you’ve given me a great idea, I should get stuck in to make enough paper for engagement and wedding invites, I’m going to try doing the whole wedding with nothing new, all vintage, repurposed, recycled and cute ;)

  23. Nancy says

    I would think food color would work. Putting drops of different colors here and there in the slurry before scooping might give a nice effect…? I’m ready to go out a buy a used blender to give it a try!

  24. Jo says

    I’m going to have to look into this more, but you’ve broken it down wonderfully. How long did your ‘slurry’ stay moist? With the hair dryer it would definitely cut down dry time, but did you have to buy a lot of the splash guards to be able to use it all? I can’t wait to see your blog tomorrow. This is a great blog you have here. Lots of useful tips.

  25. says

    I actually have made paper quite a few times. Ive also molded paper. I have made it a few ways but my favourite was using an inexpensive kit with everything you need. Using a specific sized screen gives you a nice deckled edge since you don’t cut the paper to size.

    When you lay your paper out to dry, lay it on the smoothest surface possible, even smooth paper like newsprint or your countertop can be good. I used an old sheet on old towels and the paper picked up the texture of the sheet fabric. Although subtle, I didn’t like it. But drying on the counter does slow drying. You really should use an old blender for paper. There are lots of chemicals in the inks and paper that aren’t good for food. I used an old one I got from a garage sale. Slow but still only took about 45 seconds. Not too bad.

  26. Nancy says

    I read your blog each day and marvel at your wisdom, your creativity, and your dedication to providing a first-rate blog for your readers. I just wanted to say some-thing to you regarding the contest. Winning is always exciting, especially when it comes from peers who are trying to show appreciation. You, however, do not need to win this contest to know that you are a number one blogger in the eyes of your readers. Win or lose, congratulations for a job well done.hikn

  27. Cat says

    My 10 year old tracks out of school on Friday for 3 weeks and this will be great for us to do during her track-out! (she goes to a year- round school)

    I am so happy I found your blog Jillee! I was glad for the reminder to feed the birds a while back and now have a bunch of regular feathered visitors!

    Looking forward to your next post!

  28. Nichie says

    Love love love your site and love the redesign! I discovered you nearly a year ago and I’m a daily reader. Thank you for being you, sharing your enthusiasm and inspiring all who touch!

    The calligraphy on the cards in your photos is just exquisite. Jillee, did you do the calligraphy or was that a printer font?

    Keep doing what you do! NB

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