Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Scrapbooking 201: Paper Making

Paper making can be fun, it is time consuming and takes a bit of work, but you can create some beautiful and elegant looking papers. When I do go to the effort to make it – I make a bunch at the same time. I own the Arthur Grummel paper making kit, although you can easily create your own frame with a few supplies from the hardware store and some tools…

There is a lot of information online about how to make paper…here is how I do it.

Supply list:
~Shredded or torn up small pieces of paper (acid free if using in scrapbook)
~Sizing (if using unrecycled paper as your base)
~Framed Screen & top frame (paper making kit)
~Sponge (or towels)
~Couch sheets

1. Depending on how much pulp you use – you will have different thicknesses of paper. If you use a 8x10 screen using a white piece of 8.5"x11" sheet of paper to begin, and add some colored paper to desired color. This will make a fairly thin piece of paper, add more if you like it thicker.
2. Now I have never added sizing to my paper, as I am usually using recycled paper. But if you are starting with purchased paper pulp you will need to add sizing you can…and this is where you would add it. Sizing makes the paper less absorbent so that your inks won't smear when you are writing or stamping on it.. If you are starting with recycled paper you won't. Popular sizes are Perfect Paper Adhesive, Elmer's Glue, wax paper and commercial sizing.
3. You can either add your “inclusions” (i.e. flower petals, mica flakes, glitter, etc.) at this point or you can add them later while the pulp is in the mould.
4. Now you can blend all this up and it is ready to pour. You can blend the pulp for short or long periods depending on how consistent you want the texture of the paper. I usually blend mine for about 20 seconds and then look at it and decide if I want it smoother.
5. Now pour the pulp into the screen. The screen should be sitting in a tub full of water. The tub is important because the paper pulp will solidify in your pipes if you run it down the drain. I dump my tub down the toilet when I'm done. If you want to add inclusions at this point be sure to swish the mould a little in the water so that the pulp can attach itself to your inclusions. Otherwise your flower petals or whatever will simply fall off the paper as it dries.
6. Drain the water slowly from the screen. If there are thin places in the pulp move the pulp very gently around to evenly distribute. It is best to do this before all the water has drained out.
7. Unhook the Velcro or remove the rubberbands (depending on your version of the papermaking kit) from the screen and carefully lift it from the screen. I tend to hold the screen down so that it doesn't stick to the wood frame and lift with it. Pick up the grid/screen assembly and then lift the frame out and away. Set the frame aside. You are finished with it for now.
8. Cover the paper with the screen that comes with the kit. Thoroughly sponge or towel as much water as possible from your sheet of paper. I think of the first part of the process as getting water into the piece of paper and then the last part of the process as getting water out of the paper.
9. I remove the top frame and do this initial sponging on a bath towel. That catches all the water and helps keep the mess to a minimum. It does require a number of towels if you are doing a bunch of sheets of paper…
10. When the paper is as dry as possible, cover it with one of the couch (pronounced "cooch") sheets that are supplied with the kit. Put another couch sheet on top of the paper. The couch sheets are very thick pieces of paper which are very absorbent and further help to extract water from the paper.
11. Using the block of plastic that is included in the kit, press as firmly as possible over the entire top couch sheet. The idea here is to further extract water from the paper.
12. Invert the paper onto a towel or clean cloth. Carefully peel the paper from the couch sheet. That is it! You let the paper dry (drying time depends on how much pulp you use) and then it's ready to use. Personally, I use a hot iron and iron my paper to hurry up the drying time, but is not necessary.

I have also done a few paper molds. I think these things are made out of terra cotta or similar. You take a handful of pulp and place it into the mold, use a couch sheet and sponge to try and soak some of the water out of the pulp and push the pulp into all the crevices of the mold. Depending on your molds – read the instructions – you will either bake in the oven or microwave to hurry up the drying time of your mold. Otherwise you just sit and wait for it to air dry. The microwave is by far the easy way to go, so consider that when purchasing your molds.

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