How to Make Recycled Paper at Home

    by Elizabeth Stover

    About the Author

    Elizabeth Stover, an 18 year veteran teacher and author, has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Maryland with a minor in sociology/writing. Stover earned a masters degree in education curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas, Arlington and continues to work on a masters in Educational Leadership from University of North Texas. Stover was published by Creative Teaching Press with the books "Science Tub Topics" and "Math Tub Topics."


    Artists and crafters use handmade paper to make one-of-a-kind greeting cards, books, collages and other home decor items. Handmade paper also can be used as a surface for painting or printmaking. If you have stacks of old newspapers, copy paper and brown paper bags headed to the recycle bin, you can turn some of them into beautiful, textured paper to make original paper products to give as gifts or sell.

    Things You'll Need

    • 2 wood photo frames, 8-by-10 inches
    • Porous fabric or mesh
    • Staple gun
    • Recyclable paper
    • Dishpans
    • Warm water
    • Blender
    • Sponge
    • Cotton fabric

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    Staple a porous piece of fabric tightly to the back of one frame with a staple gun; this creates the papermaking mold. The second frame, known as the deckle, helps to hold the wet pulp in place during the papermaking process.

    Amass your recyclable paper. You need the equivalent of 50 sheets of copy paper to mix up enough pulp to create several sheets of recycled paper. White or colored copy paper from the recycle bin works best. Newspaper also works but doesn't create as sophisticated an end product due to the high volume of ink and thin quality of the paper. Non-glossy wrapping paper also works and adds some interest to your recycled paper.

    Shred the recycled paper. Shred different types and colors separately. If shredding by hand, shred or cut the paper into 1-inch pieces. Don't use a machine shredder unless it crosscuts. If your paper shredder produces thin strips, tear them into shorter strips by hand.

    Place the shredded paper in a dishpan and cover it with water. If using colored and white papers, soak them separately. Soak the paper for several hours or overnight.

    Add 1 cup of soaked paper to the blender and fill it up with warm water. Blend the paper into pulp on the puree setting until it reaches oatmeal consistency and the large lumps disappear. Add very fine glitter or crushed dried herbs or flowers at this time to add interest to paper.

    Pour approximately four blenders full of pureed paper into an empty dishpan or similar container. Fill the rest of the tub up with warm water. The pulp mixture should be about 90 percent water after it is mixed in the dishpan. Run your hands through the watery mixture to ensure it's blended well.

    Hold the mold and deckle together tightly and dip them into the pulp bath vertically. Slide the mold and deckle into the horizontal position under the surface to pool the pulp in the mold. Raise the mold and deckle out of the bath quickly but carefully so that the layer of pulp stays even. Let the water drain. Lift off the deckle.

    Dab a sponge over the screen to lift off excess water from the pulp. Repeat this process, continuously squeezing water out of the sponge, until the pulp begins to lighten in color visibly due to drying.

    Cover your drying area -- a table or shelf -- with a piece of cotton fabric such as muslin or an old sheet. Lift the paper out of the mold carefully and lay it on the fabric-covered surface to dry overnight. Then, gently lift the paper off the fabric. Turn it over to finish drying if necessary. Place dry paper under heavy books to flatten any warping.