Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Papermaking Procedure with Minimal Supplies

With about ten students, the second meeting of the Tree House English Science Club was successful.  We learned about saving trees and reducing pollution by recycling paper.  For three evenings, the Tree House has become a papermaking recycling factory.

I scoured the many papermaking websites to learn the technique.  The Pioneer Thinking Website and The Illustrated Step-by-Step Guide both called for a wooden frame and a blender; whereas, the Recycling Paper at Home site called for a mortar and pestle.  My students were a bit amazed that I had never been taught how to make paper, but that I independently studied how to by myself.  

With my limited Chinese vocabulary, looking for materials in the open market can take a whole afternoon.  Plus since I am trying to save money for a winter holiday trip, my pocketbook is pretty empty.  I needed to find the cheapest bare essentials.  Here is the procedure I used for making paper without a blender or a wooden frame using hands as a mortar and pestle.

wire mesh
rolling pin


1.  Instead of scissors use your hands to rip the paper into tiny pieces, the tinier the better.
2.  Add water to just cover the paper.  The water paper mixture should be a thick sludge.
3.  Let the paper soak for at least a day, stirring and mashing the paper between your hands.  Add water if the sludge is too thick.
4.  Cut the mesh into the shape of paper that you want to make.
5.  When most of the paper seems to be broken down into sludge, add more water to the mixture.  (Use less water if you want thick paper and more water if you want thinner paper.  Experiment with this step to get the desired paperweight.)
6.  Holding the mesh taunt emerge the mesh into the sludge then pull out the mesh picking up fibers.
7.  Let the water drain.
8.  Place the paper side onto a piece of cloth with the mesh facing up.    
9.  Using a sponge, remove excess water.  
10.  When enough water has been removed, carefully remove the mesh leaving the wet paper on the cloth.
9.  Cover the wet paper with another piece of cloth and use a rolling pin to roll over the paper to remove more water.
10.  Let air dry.  When the paper dries, it will easily peel off the cloth.

1 comment:

universalibrarian said...

Yay! super fun! Sounds like a brilliant shopping list I did that with students at my old school Zero budget art fun. Two fun additions: you can add flower petals or colored threads or pretty much anything else to the mess to spice things up. I have a friend who is an artist doing paper making sculptures and she pretty much does the same thing except she paints with different colors of the pulp before pressing it out. Color can come from a lot of places. different colors of papers, boiling up some plants in your pulp (boiling makes the fibers break down more) or a little cheap paint goes a long way. (does raise the budget but I had some paint sitting around) Smiley faces, hearts. Monkeys. You name it. I tried to do some paper casting by stretching and pulling scraps of metal window screen mesh into face shapes and things but when they dried they ended up shriveled and pruney. Some people do that sucessfully but i don't know how.
Thanks for sharing your adventure It made me smile.