Good Morning! I’ve wanted to make paper for a long time. I sort of feel like I have paper, though, so using pre-existing paper to make paper just hasn’t been enough for me. Then I saw some paper made from paper that had seeds embedded in it…Seed Paper!! You can plant it! That made it not just paper, but something to fill this seed planting urge I get every February. Granted, I’m not planting them now, but I’m playing with them…and it really did seem to get it out of my system!
What you’ll need:
- Paper scraps
- An old picture frame
- Nylon window screen
- A tub/dish larger than your frame
- Towels…and more towels
I save every little thing naturally, so finding some bits of scrapbook paper that really were too small for anything wasn’t an issue.
We went with pink and purple prints, and white printer paper. The color/texture of your paper will affect your finished paper! Ours ended up a soft lavender – white.
This really is the type of craft to put that old junk mail to use! Make sure you remove any plastic, staples or other additions, and do not use paper with any sort of slick coating! We want our plants to be nourished by the composting paper once it’s planted, not poisoned by additives!
My boys got us started, cutting up all the paper into very small pieces while the Easy Bake Oven was cooking. (Cookies are obviously optional…but we generally find them necessary to be productive.)
You can cut, tear, shred…just make ’em small.
Cover over your paper pieces with water and let them soak overnight. You want them good and soggy. So If you start this in the morning, by late afternoon you should be good to go.
You’ll need a screened frame before you move on with your paper, so let’s do that now.
I used a small 5 x 7 picture frame. Remove the glass and backing, and staple on some nylon screen. I had some old screen already, but you can purchase rolls at any home improvement store.
Use duct tape to encase the edges. This will give you a nice edge on your paper b/c your paper won’t stick to the tape and in my case, helped secure the screen tightly since my staples really didn’t get down in the frame very well.
This is the point when my husband asked me what I was doing and I simply smiled rather than answer. He then answered himself, “Trying to make me crazy.” Then he had a great idea…he said we should turn our barn into a craft place where a bunch of us could get together and do all this crap (husband talk for hone all these wonderful skills) without him having to deal with it. I think we should do that.
The next day:
It’s time to make a pulp. I have an extra blender attachment saved from my last one (I may or may not have burnt up my motor making papercrete…..my husband can’t prove it…and bought the same model again so I used the old stuff on the new motor), so I have in effect a blender dedicated to paper making.
Everyone carries on that you need a blender that’s dedicated because of inks and whatever, but I would’ve done this in my food blender anyway. I figure it’s glass, the blades are stainless…the only part that could actually absorb anything would be the rubber gasket that’s not really exposed. I’m also known to overlook things if there’s something I want on the other side, so you’ll have to use your own judgement.
Once you’ve decided whether you’re willing to wait until yard sale season to do this or if, like me, you need to stick some seeds somewhere ASAP, you can A)put the paper in your blender or B) start trying to break it up by hand…which will no doubt take days of soaking.
You’re going to use your blender? Let’s go!
We started with about two cups of soaked paper and enough water to cover, but that was too hard on my blender motor. We doubled our water and it worked, but the pulp was thick.
I decided to fill my blender with water to get a much thinner pulp. Pulse a few times, then when you can tell it’s easily moving turn it loose on liquefy or grind.
It’s going to be up to you how thin or thick your pulp is. It will directly relate to how thick or thin your paper is. The description I’ve most often read is like thin oatmeal….I think mine was even a bit thinner than that.
I actually poured it onto the frame three times and returned it to the blender for further grinding until I was happy.
We used a 9 x 13 baking dish to soak our paper, and I just continued to use that throughout the process. Our frame was thicker than our pulp was deep, so we replaced the traditional “dunking and pulling up on the frame” for pouring/spooning the pulp onto the frame.
When you get a nice layer of pulp add your seeds.
(I started this on a whim and just used what seeds I had, so we went with Calendula (pot marigold). The seeds were a bit thicker than you really want. They also look like tiny worms to me. Not great.) We ended up also finding some bee balm, self-heal, and spinach strawberry (a weird little heirloom plant with strawberry-like fruits and spinach-like leaves).
Add a bit more pulp and cover the top with wax paper. Use something with a smooth edge (spatula, credit card, the edge of your sponge…) to work out from center, smoothing the entire area.
There will be water dripping through the screen down into your pan. If your pan isn’t narrow enough to suspend your frame, you’ll have to work on towels…so be ready to change them out for some dry ones. CAREFULLY remove your wax paper. This is where I had to dump it and start over several times b/c I messed up my layer of pulp. If it was just a small spot that was messed up I simply added some more pulp to the area and smoothed again.
Clean up any pulp that is on the tape. Nothing too fancy. Use your finger to wipe it off, but go slow and try to avoid disturbing what’s on the screen.
I let it sit there for a few minutes until most of the dripping had stopped.
From this point forward we are removing the water.
Move your frame onto a dry towel and begin sponging excess water from the top.
Easy does it. Be careful, again, that you don’t rip your paper. Just pay attention to what you’re doing and be gentle. Squeeze out your sponge regularly and continue until you’re not getting any moisture, then flip your frame over and repeat from the bottom of the screen. I thought using a kitchen towel worked best from the bottom.
When you’ve soaked as much as you think you possibly can remove it from your frame. This is where I stopped for a while. I was so scared! Move through your fear. I had to use a knife along one narrow edge, then I was able to anchor that loose piece with one hand and lift off the frame with the other.
If you start running your knife under it and it’s still sopping wet, stop and dry some more first. It’s one of those things that you just have to do, and one of those moments that can go either way.
Once you have it off the frame, lay wax paper of top and roll it out. Again…start at the center and work outward. Carefully remove from wax paper and repeat on other side.
If you want your paper to have a courser texture, just omit the wax paper and press between towels.
As we used up all the pulp from the blender, our excess that was being left in the pan was thinner and thinner, so those last two pieces of paper were much finer/thinner. They were so much harder to remove from the frame! (True to style, that’s what I want now…thin thin thin.) I just dumped them back into the pan and tried again. And again. This meant that our seeds were mixed together by the end pieces, too.
I decided to play with colors a bit at that point.
I added green food coloring to some pulp…
I spooned the original on, leaving gaps, then filled them in with the green…you can’t tell in the finished pics, but you can tell subtle variation in person.
Let them dry overnight on cardboard.
In the morning, behold the glory of your handy work! All this came from that one batch! The two bookmarks are on their way to Nana’s house with some drawings (sorry to ruin the surprise, Mom), but I have an idea brewing for the rest of them…which is why I want thin paper…I’ll let you know if it works out at all!
I thought bookmarks were a great use because right now while it’s cold what’s better than a warm fire and a good book? Then, when it warms up outside…get out there and plant it!
You’ll want to include planting instructions!
Before I go, let’s take a look at some difference:
The paper on the left was pressed between towels after removing from the screen, right was rolled under wax paper.
I don’t know how to ever show you clearly…but the paper is fanned out by the order we made it. The left is probably twice as thick as the last piece….my screen was sagging by that point and the edges are literally no thicker than tissue paper!
I added a small piece to a cup with some dirt my son acquired from a mud party and it sprouted! These are Alyssum seeds. The pieces layed on top have roots started, but the pieces covered with dirt have strong roots and sprouts!
Anyway, I don’t really know how to do this…just that I wanted to try! It actually worked, so that was good! Thanks for following along for our adventure in seed paper making! Hope your inspired to play a bit yourself!
‘Til next time!