Thursday, July 25, 2013

Follow-up: Papermaking from Recycled Materials

Today's Post is directions and pictures for making hand made paper from recycled materials as a follow up from the workshops in Zambia.

This is a process I created while working with students of all ages. Using old wrapping paper, fliers, envelopes, postcard, any non-slick paper can be recycled to make new art paper. Color can be added with paints (watercolor, tempera, not oil), flowers(dried), leaves (dried), used tea leaves, tea bags, used coffee filters can all be used in recycled handmade paper. Acid free art papers can be made by taking used, damaged, or small pieces of good paper to repurpose it to new. Blue jeans or cotton fibers can be used, they must be shredded and works better when combined with paper fibers.

The basic process is to shred or tear the paper to be recycled into small 1 inch or smaller pieces. Soak this paper in water at least 24 hours. If you separate paper by color families you can make colored paper. If you combine all colors you will get a gray or brown tone paper. If using blue jeans or cotton material to recycle it takes longer to soak, 48 plus hours and is harder to break down to pulp.

Option 1: Pulp the soaked paper in a blender, use 3 cups of water to one cup of loose paper. Blend to pulp. Add blended pulp to a large vat (tub) of water. The amount of pulp to water is not an exact measurement but more of a feel. The fibers of the pulp need to float in the water. As you run your hand through this mixture it should feel like cream and look like oatmeal (oats).

Option 2: Pulping can be done using a mortar and pestle. Depending on the size fill the bottom with the wet paper. Mash till the wet paper becomes pulp. Add this to water in vat (tub). Same as above.

A screen is used to pull (make) a new sheet of paper. To make the screen: a wooden frame can be made to the size you prefer 8x11 or approximately 20cm by 30 cm. Wood stretcher bars used by painters to stretch their canvas on is a quick alternative. If you have access to wood, hardware stores, you can have pieces cut to size using 1X1, 1X2, 2X2 inches or 2.54 X 2.54, 2.54X5.08, 5.08X5.08cm. Two frames are needed, each the same sizes. One frame, attach screening, used for windows & doors. Waterproof screen is best as metal screening will rust. Staple this screen to one frame. Leave the second frame open.   

The screen attached to the frame is the mold, this is the bottom & the top frame is the deckle. These two parts are held together, holding them with one hand on each side, keep fingers on frames, not inside on screen area only. Each time you make a new sheet of paper, stir the pulp around in the water to make sure the fibers are floating evenly. At an 45 degree angle dip the long side of the mold & deckle into the floating pulp, flatten the screen (mold/deckle) and pull up level. There will be some resistance as you pull the screen out of the water. Allow the water to drain off, turn the screens to one corner to allow more water to drain away. Remove the top open frame; continue to let water drain off into vat. Pull any loose pulp off the screen frame. Do not rush.

Couching: using newspaper or material that is flat not wrinkled, lay the long edge of the screen (mold) on the paper or material and push(couch) it down. Give a little pressure to release more water from the paper. Before removing the screen use a sponge to remove additional water. Squeeze water from sponge back into the vat (tub).  Apply pressure on the wooden frame, keeping pressure on the lower long edge of the screen (mold) and gently rock it up towards you. If the wet paper does not release, apply pressure again, repeat rocking it up. If it still does not release use the sponge on the back of the screen as it may still be too wet. Do not rub, this damages the loose fibers, apply pressure straight down on the screen.

After the screen (mold) is removed. The paper can be pressed flat with additional paper & rolling pin or round plastic glass. Use single sheets of newspaper, paper from phone books or magazines. Lay a piece on the wet paper, very, very lightly roll over the wet & dry papers to remove more water. The more water that is removed, the faster it will dry and the smoother it will be for writing, drawing or painting.

 Dry: keep flat between blotter paper or newsprint. Check daily and change papers or blotters to prevent mold. Or papers can be kept on newspaper and placed outside to dry. Wet papers can be dried on boards in the sun. Wet papers can be placed between dry newspaper/newsprint and weighted with boards on top inside. Check daily to prevent papers from molding, change wet newspapers daily with dry papers.

The newspapers can be dried and used again. The same with the sheets of papers used to help remove water from the new recycled paper. Or these smaller pieces can be made into additional pulp.

Once the paper is dry it can be used to create booklets, paintings, drawings, cards, or mount plants on it and display as its own art piece.

Alternatives: used tea bags can be added to pulp. The paper bag can be added to pulp with other papers. The dried used tea leaves can be added as a decorative speckle to the pulp before pulling new sheets of paper. The amount is up to you and how much speckle you want in your paper. Just remember a couple tea bags can go a long way. Dried flowers can be added in this same manner. Roses, even dried may bleed into the wet paper, especially red.

If you want to add flowers or leaves to the paper, use a little extra pulp to hold it in place. Just placing a leaf on wet paper will not work, as the paper dries it will pull away from the leaf. An alternative is that by pressing a leaf or object into the wet pulp you are embossing a design into the paper. You can glue flowers or leaves on after the paper is dry.

If you make recycled paper from just newsprint it will have a high acid content. Most newsprint has already gone through some recycling. Add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to your pulp mixture to help cut the acid. Baking soda can be found in the baking section of grocery stores.

White glue can be added to pulp to help prevent ink or paint from bleeding. A couple of tablespoons pre vat of pulp is all that is needed.
The thinner paper is pulled the more it looks like fine writing or drawing papers. Thicker papers are good for making book covers, or art sculptural pieces. Wood sticks can be used with handmade paper to create a hanger for mounting on the wall. This is just one technique to make paper. There are lots of different approaches and styles. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy! Recycle, Renew, Recreate.
Making pulp without electricity

Hand Blenders or food processors can be used to break down the recycled paper to pulp

Use a Mold & Deckle (screen attached to wood frame & open frame) to pull paper from the pulp fibers floating in water

Allow water to drain

Press recycled paper on to newsprint or material, couching it to remove water, apply pressure do not lift screen yet

Sponge the back of the screen to remove more water, press do not rub. Remove screen, use dry papers & rolling pin gently to remove additional water. The more water is removed the thinner the sheet of paper & it will dry faster


create something new from something old - renew - recreate

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