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Handmade paper.

Where does paper come from? No, it is not Office Max. Paper originally came from China where it was invented over 2000 years ago. Ts'ai Lun was the first man to make paper using the bark of the mulberry tree.

Making paper is fun and simple; you don't have to scrape bark from a tree to do it. With the right equipment and recycled paper, you can make your own paper.

Start saving scraps of paper: computer paper, advertisement flyers, school newsletters, pieces of construction paper. Making your first sheet is easier if you combine recycled papers with sheets of cotton linters which can be bought at craft stores. Basic papermaking kits which include a mold and deckle, cotton linters, and felts for drying, can be ordered from Lee S. McDonald, Inc., a paper manufacturer in Charlestown, MA. Are you feeling adventurous? You can try to make your own mold and deckle with picture frames and window screening.

Once you have assembled the equipment, you're ready to make pulp. Cotton linter and recycled paper are softened with water and mashed in a blender to form pulp. The pulp is added to a vat of water. Now it is called slurry. Fibers are lifted in a thin layer with the mold and deckle. After draining and blotting, the matted fibers dry on a flat surface and form a piece of paper.

After you've mastered making a piece of paper, you may want to experiment with color and texture. Add pieces of ribbon, glitter, seeds, or potpourri to the slurry. When it dries, you can paint it, decorate it, draw on it, or cover things with it. You'll be able to make note cards, birthday cards, or beautiful soft paper for art projects. Use your imagination. What will you make with your very own, handmade paper?

MAKING A SIMPLE MOLD AND DECKLE

The mold is a frame with a screen that allows water to drain from the slurry leaving a thin layer of pulp. The deckle is an empty frame that rests on top of the mold and forms the edge of the paper.

MATERIALS:

* sturdy scissors or wire cutters * an old window screen or screening from a hardware store * two wooden picture frames (same size, approximately 8 1/2" x 11") * staple gun * duct tape

WHAT YOU DO:

1. Remove the glass and backing from both wooden frames.

2. Cut the screening to fit the dimensions of one frame.

3. Lay screen on the backside of the frame. Staple the screen along the edges.

4. Cover edges of the screen with duct tape. This frame is the mold.

The remaining empty frame is the deckle.

MAKING PAPER

MATERIALS:

* a table or work bench * paper scraps or cotton linter from the craft store (not newspaper or magazines) * 5-gallon container or bucket * blender or hand-held mixer (not to be used for food) * colander * shallow vat, approximately 25" x 20" x 6" * cookie sheet * sponge * felt * starch * mold and deckle (from a craft store or see "Making a Simple Mold and Deckle") * dried flower petals, glitter, sequins, beads (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS FOR HANDMADE PAPER

MAKE THE PULP

1. Tear cotton linter and recycled paper into 1"-2" square strips.

2. Place strips in large container or bucket filled halfway with water to soften the strips. Ask an adult to help you shred strips with a handheld mixer until it is mushy.

3. Place a colander into a sink and add the mixture. Let drain. Squeeze excess water from the pulp. Pulp can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator until it is ready to use.

MAKE THE SLURRY

1. Fill a vat half full with water and add two or three handfuls of pulp. The pulp is called slurry when it is added to the vat of water.

2. Add crayon bits or food coloring if desired. Flower petals, glitter, sequins, or snippets of ribbon will create patterns. Potpourri, seeds, or beads may be added for texture.

FORM THE PAPER

1. Stir the pulp with your hands until it is smooth.

2. Align the deckle with the flat backside of the mold. Holding deckle firmly against the mold, slip the mold and deckle under the slurry.

3. Lift slowly and smoothly upwards. If the paper is lumpy or uneven, dump the slurry back into the tub and try again. Once an even coat is formed, let the excess water drain back into the tub.

DRY THE PAPER

1. Line a cookie sheet with a piece of felt.

2. Lift the deckle from the mold and turn the mold upside down on the cookie sheet.

3. Blot excess water from the mold with a sponge. Continue blotting until no more water can be squeezed from the sponge.

4. Let the paper dry for a day or so. Peel paper away from felt.

5. Size the paper by spraying the surface with starch and ironing dry. This will seal the surface. Your very own, handmade paper is ready for drawing, writing, or gift-giving!
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Author:Mrvos, Randi Lynn
Publication:Fun For Kidz
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:837
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