Handmade paper is special. How it feels, how it looks, but especially how it’s made.
In its earliest form, the paper making process included gathering organic fibers, making them into a pulp, and then forming individual sheets from the materials. Even though the process became automated due to the widespread adoption, handmade paper is still considered a hero due to it’s artistic nature.
Your New Hobby Box includes a mold and deckle. These tools are essential for handmade paper making at any scale or skill level.
Also included in your kit are multi-colored cotton thread, pea flowers, and a mixture of saffron, chamomile flowers, oolong, green, thai, earl grey, and rooibos tea.
To begin, you will need to choose what you wish to use as the base for your paper. We are using the packing paper used in the New Hobby Box. But you can also use newspaper, office papers, receipts, napkins, etc.
Once you’ve chosen, you must finely rip up the paper. If available, you can also blend the paper using a bit of water and a blender.
Add the paper shreds and warm water inside of a vessel that can accommodate your deckle and mold. A sink is perfect for this. Here we are using a plastic water basin.
Assemble the deckle on top of the mold with screen side up. After mixing up the mixture (we encourage using hands, but a stirring stick will also do) dip your deckle and mold into the water. See following video for reference:
As shown in the video. Once you have sifted the fibers onto your mold, slowly and evenly place them onto a flat surface. Remove the deckle and place cotton sheet on top of the fibers. *Note: If you make more than two sheets at once, a washcloth or towel will work just as well.
Then take your paper roller and use it to drain any excess water from your paper allowing it to stick to the cotton sheet.
Also as shown, very carefully remove the cotton making sure the paper is sticking to it evenly. If you’ve ever applied a temporary tattoo or tried to remove a bandage without ripping out your hair… this is very much like that.
Once removed, hang your paper up to dry. Depending on the airflow & sunlight, this can take up to 24hrs. There are other methods for drying that you can also experiment with such as sticking to a window or ironing. (links below)
Notice the curl in this paper? This is due to the inconsistent distribution of fibers onto the cotton. Two causes + Ways to avoid this:
- Sifting too quickly. Pay extra attention and sift slowly and evenly into your water… Being okay with pulling out and starting over if it’s not perfect.
- Fibers not making it to cotton. Roll over the entire cotton surface expelling as much water as you can. Slowly pull up cotton, paying close attention if any fiber is left on your wire. If it is, roll again.
If you dry your paper and have an unwanted curl, there a few methods you can try to fix this! One of them being an iron!
Step 1: Air dry paper + carefully peel from cotton sheet.
Step 2: Place paper between 2 sheets of cotton (cotton | paper | cotton)
Step 3: Iron on low heat.
Another drying method you could try is the window drying method:
If attempting the window drying method, be sure to remove the cotton sheet. Do not allow it to dry with cotton attached like shown below.
Once you are comfortable with the papermaking process, we dare you to get curious! Add some of the cotton threads, add the tea! Heck – add something you find outside!
Fine items like the tea (above) can be added before you sift.
But if you wish to have complete control over the placement of your additives, first sift your paper then add directly onto your mold while still in water.
You can use your petals to color your paper pulp! Here is a demonstration on this process:
You might also be wondering…. what should I do with my handmade paper! Aside for the obvious, you could use papermaking as a gateway hobby into origami or even bookbinding.
Some other uses for your paper: Mounting, Card Making, Print Making, or you could even just display them as the lovely works of art that they are!
If you’ve been with us for awhile and the above mention of bookbinding has you remembering our bookbinding kits… YES! The paper in those kits was handmade by the same folks that made your molds and deckles in this kit and using the same method we’ve just shown you.
We hope seeing their paper inspires you to keep at this hobby even if the first go doesn’t come out as expected.
Your friends, @NewHobbyBox
PS…. ASK QUESTIONS!
Whether it be a success or fail, show us and your fellow hobbyists!
Tag #newhobbybox or send us a photo of your creation with anything you discovered during the process. We’ll add your experience to the bottom of this tutorial.