Wednesday, February 26, 2014

papermaking

Last week, we were on a papermaking kick. We tend to do that; dive into something for a while and keep going with it, until everyone has tried out their ideas and filled up on the project, and then we drop it for altogether. Last week it was all about paper.
We've been saving up old receipts and junk mail and discarded drawings and doodlings and construction paper scraps and coloring pages and grocery lists. The first part of the process is picking the colors/textures of paper to use, then tearing or snipping them into little pieces. Then we throw them all into an old blender with plenty of water to create a paper slurry.


Whether the paper bits are chunky or finely blended  has a big effect on the final product.  We experimented with a variety of textures.
The pulpy liquid then gets poured into our 'papermill', which is essentially a four-sided wooden box with a fine mesh screen strapped to the bottom of it. The water can flow out and the paper mush gets trapped on the screen when we lift it out of the water-filled container below it.


After the box is removed from the screen, another screen is placed on top and the excess water gets sponged off. Then the wet paper is flipped onto a thick, absorbent paper called 'couch paper'.  It gets sponged and pressed again before the last screen is removed.
 In the end, we sandwich it between two couch papers and press it firmly, then let it dry.  We usually just air-dry it at that point, but we also experimented with ironing it while still damp for a more uniformly flat piece.
 Then we tried it again and again, with different colors, textures, amounts, and additions (such as glitter and dried flower petals).

We even varied the shape using an envelope 'deckle' on top of the screen.

perfect for a letter to a penpal
By the time, everyone exhausted their interest in papermaking we had a whole rainbow of beautiful recycled paper.
Do you or your kids get on kicks? What has got your interest lately?

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