Handmade paper project -- creating an invitation that grows! Tips and basic introduction to making paper.



How To Make Handmade Paper

by Lynda Cookson

Grow a Greeting

As you set the match to the sealing wax and wait for the lighted stick to drip its post-office red wax onto the flap of the envelope, the family crest stamp (or a decorative coin) is ready to hand, waiting for you to emboss and seal your invitation. You feel great when you survey the final product: handmade paper envelope (made by yourself), enclosing handmade paper invitation or card (designed and written, or printed, by yourself), and beautifully sealed at the back. The little flowers you used in the paper pulp have dried and kept their colour, sitting snugly next to the seeds which you have embedded in the paper and which will sprout and grow when your special friend plants and waters the card!

Perhaps you’ve mastered the art of calligraphy and have added a note to your lovingly crafted invitation, telling your friends and family that once they have noted your event on the calendar, they can pop the card and envelope into a pot of pot-plant soil, cover it over, water it frequently, and watch the seeds grow! Grow a Greeting!

About the craft of making handmade paper

Making handmade paper is quite likely the most economical and “green” creative activity you can enjoy in your home or art studio – or even as a small business from home, making cards, envelopes, bookmarks, and a host of other items, for sale.

All materials used are recyclable and nothing is ever wasted. Even mistakes and reject sheets made during the process can be returned to the pulp vat to make another sheet.

The pulp is made from recycled paper and/or fibrous plant materials like carrot stems and leeks; the decorative content in the paper is usually vegetable or other plant fibres (carrot leaves and spinach); colorings used can be natural (the water from boiled onion skins), if you choose; and the only equipment you need apart from general household items, is a wooden deckle and mould set with a sponge.

What will you use your handmade paper for? Writing paper, envelopes, wrapping paper, boxes, paper to paint on (watercolor and oils not recommended, instead use gouache or acrylics), calligraphy, greeting cards, book covers, promotional correspondence, CD covers, wedding invitations, anniversary and special occasion stationary, collages, and much more. |In fact, whatever you would use commercial paper for.

The basic items you will need to make pulp and paper

1. Pulp which has been prepared for use.

Hint : It is better to work with “runny” pulp (ie. pulp with a fairly high water content) than with pulp which is too thick (ie. not enough water). Do be careful not to make the pulp too thin in the water so that your paper becomes too weak.

2. A deckle, mould and sponge set. A mould is a wooden frame which has fine netting stretched across it and stapled to the back edge. A deckle is a non-netted wooden frame exactly the same size as the mould. The sponge is best cut to fit snugly inside of the Deckle.

3. Man-sized handkerchiefs – as many as the number of sheets of paper you wish to make – and just larger than the size of the deckle and mould. Alternatively, you may use disposable dishcloths (J cloths), squares of bed sheeting (old!), or vylene (collar stiffening), all with the creases ironed out. Disposable dish cloths will leave a slight grid pattern on your paper. This is quite a pleasant effect, but if you want smooth paper, rather use handkerchiefs, sheeting or vylene.

4. Sink or portable basin half filled with water. A rectangular shaped 20 litre basin is the most practical.

5. A thick towel laid out on a flat surface.

The different types of paper to use for pulp

An important point to remember is that the higher quality paper you begin with, the higher the quality of paper you will make.

Computer or copy paper:

This is good, strong paper to use, especially if it does not have a high print content. Pure white is the best. If you can get computer paper which has already been shredded, then so much the better! Remember to separate the colored copy paper from the white paper so that you do not end up with a muddy-colored pulp when they are all mixed together. Rather make separate colors and mix them, if you wish, later.


Newspaper will generally make a brownish-grey pulp. It is easy to work with initially as it tears easily and is very absorbent. Your final product will not be a strong or long-lasting paper as the acid content of newspaper is very high. Newspaper is not a strong paper.


There is a high print content on magazine paper which makes an attractive grey pulp. It needs a lot more boiling and processing than newspaper but is worth experimenting with. As a warning, glossy magazine paper contains a lot of clay (the gloss) which will reduce the strength of your paper.

Have fun and experiment with tissue paper, tissues, egg boxes, brown paper, wrapping paper, and whatever paper you can lay your hands on.

Methods for making paper

There are at least three different methods for making the type of paper you need:

Method 1 where you create a picture or watermark in your paper

Method 2 which is the traditional way of pulling a sheet of paper (used by the Japanese and Indians for centuries)

Method 3 where you make mass produced paper for weddings and special events.

Where to find equipment and information

If you would like to find out more, and see samples of paper displayed on the hot desert sands of Namibia in Southern Africa, then please visit www.lyndacookson.com for papermaking kits (including a simple instructional booklet) and ‘How To Make Handmade Paper’, a 28 page comprehensive, yet easy to read, book on the subject.

‘How to Make Handmade Paper’ by Lynda Cookson covers the following :

What you need before you begin
How to make Pulp
Types of paper
The process of making pulp
Storing excess pulp
Suggestions of what to use to dye or colour your pulp
What to use as decorative content in your paper

How to make Paper

Method 1
Creating a picture or watermark in your paper

Method 2
The traditional way of pulling a sheet of paper

Method 3
Making mass produced paper for weddings
and special events

How to press your paper
Sizing your paper
Tips for getting it right

Handmade papermaking is simple, fun and addictive! Never messy and suitable for crafters from four years old to a hundred and four years old!

Just add water ……

About the Author
Lynda Cookson
is a South African born artist and writer living in Connemara, Ireland. She specializes in art, travel and event journalism. How To books published : How to Make Handmade Paper; The eArt Directory
Visit www.lyndacookson.com for book and art purchases

Article Source: www.articledestination.com

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