Learn How to Make

How to Make Paper

Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians made what became the first paper, by cutting thin layers from the papyrus stem, and beating it flat, and drying it. Thus, the name "paper". But the first paper made from a variety of fibers, was a Chinese invention of the second century A.D. that utilized mashed and shredded hemp and mulberry bark.

Because it would be hard to process that type of material today, children who are curious about the process, can duplicate it by using old newspapers, paper towels, and other discarded papers, torn into pieces about one inch square.

A handy frame for papermaking, is an old wooden photo frame with the glass removed, and window screen stapled securely over the top. You'll also need a container in which to submerge the frame, so if it was 8 " x 10", a standard size plastic dish pan will do.

Take several handfuls of your torn paper and soak it in water overnight. Then fill a kitchen blender half full of warm water, and put in a handful of the wet, shredded paper. Process on medium until no large pieces are seen, then give it a cycle on high to refine the mixture further. Pour this into the dish pan, and process another blender full. Pour this in as well, and fill the tub to about 3/4 of its depth.

Stir the contents, then submerge the frame to the bottom and allow the fibers to settle on the screen. Carefully raise the screen to the top of the water level, and remove it from the tub. Allow the frame to drain most of the water off before proceeding to the next step. Any water "hanging" on the underside of the screen can be wiped off with a sponge.

Next, take a piece of cloth or felt, and put it over the layer of fiber on the screen, then flip it over onto a hard, flat surface. Gently tap the frame and lift it off. The paper should remain on the cloth. Take another cloth or piece of felt and lay it over top of your paper, and squeeze out more water by going over it with a rolling pin. Remove the top layer of cloth and set the paper aside, or even outside in the sun, to dry. When it appears to be almost dry, pull both ends of the cloth or felt, to help loosen it from the sheet of paper, then lift it off. It can be placed aside for further drying if still damp.

Your paper may benefit from the addition of two tablespoons of liquid starch if you are going to use something like colored markers on it, as the newly made paper will be very absorbent.