Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Making Paper

My youngest daughter just finished her 5th grade Honor's Project (subject of an upcoming post). As part of her project, she had to have a "doing"part ... for her and for her audience. Since her topic was Ancient China who had the earliest paper and the oldest printing press, she thought that making paper for her classmates to brushpaint numbers on would be a good idea.

We found instructions on-line and they seemed pretty straightforward and simple.
Step 1:
Cut or shred newspapers into small squares.


Step 2:
Soak the paper in water.


Step 3:
Mix vigorously to cause the paper to dissolve into a pulp.


Step 4:
Spread the pulp on a screen and set in the sun to dry


.

Remember ... nothing is ever as simple as it sounds or looks!
Like all projects, you learn along the way. Here are some adjustments we had to make:
-- Torn paper grabs the water better than cut edges.
-- You need a high water to paper ratio.
-- Let the paper soak for quite a while.
-- If you start with hot water, by the time it's cool enough to handle it's absorbed a lot of water.
-- Mixing vigorously with a spoon is not enough. Use a food processor or blender to get "pulp."
-- If you use the daily newspaper, the ink will stain (and ruin) your nice plastic bowl. :-(
-- Scooping the pulp and pouring it on the screens works better than dipping the screens into the pulp.
-- We used my food dehydrator with window screens on the trays.
-- The thicker the pulp, the thicker the paper. Our first batch was more like egg-carton consistency.

Now that we've fine-tuned our process, we're ready to experiment with various added elements. My son made paper the other day with plain paper, grasses and leaves.

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