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Make Your Own Paper

Activity Instructions

What You'll Need

things on the what you will need list like a blender, aluminum pans, scissors, packing tape, and scrap paper
  • One large disposable aluminum pan or plastic bin (bigger than 13" x 9")
  • One or more smaller disposable aluminum pans 
    (13" x 9" or smaller)
  • Fiberglass screen (enough to cut two or more screens the size of the smaller pan bottoms)
  • Scissors or x-acto knife (ask an adult to help)
  • Scrap paper (any used paper, tissue paper, construction paper, or paper towels)
  • Large bowl or plastic bin (for soaking)
  • Blender (ask an adult to help)
  • Sponge
  • Packing or wide masking tape
  • Towels and newspapers (for drying)
  • Apron, smock, or old clothes
  • An adult to help you
  • Optional: rolling pin
  • Optional: dried flowers, herbs, glitter, short pieces of thread (for decoration and texture)

What To Do

Important Tips

  • Ask an adult to help you with the scissors, x-acto knife, and blender.
  • Find a workspace that can get wet and messy. Be sure to wear an apron or old clothes.
  • When you're done, don't pour left over pulp down the drain. Throw it out or freeze it in a plastic bag to use later.

Prepare the Scrap Paper

1

Remove any tape from your scrap paper.

2

Tear the paper into small pieces (about 1-inch squares). You'll need about 1 1/2 cups of dry paper for each sheet of new paper you want to make.

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3

Soak the paper in warm water in a large bowl for at least 30 minutes. If you can, let it sit overnight.

Make a Frame

4

Ask an adult to cut a rectangular hole in the bottom of disposable aluminum pan. Leave a 1-inch border around the bottom of the pan. Don't touch the edge! It may be sharp.

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5

Cut two pieces of fiberglass screen, each large enough to cover the entire bottom of the pan.

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6

Place one screen in the bottom of the pan. Make sure that it lies flat. Tape down the sides of the pan to keep the screen in place. This is your frame!

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Make the Pulp

7

With an adult, fill the blender with about three cups of warm water. Then add a large handful of wet paper.

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8

Put the lid on tight. Blend at medium speed until you can no longer see the pieces of paper (about 30 to 60 seconds). The pulp will look soupy.

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9

To add texture, stir in tiny pieces of thread, dried flowers, or herbs.

Form a Sheet

10

Fill a large bin or pan about halfway with warm water.

11

Lower the bottom of the frame into the water. Have the adult slowly pour the pulp into the frame.

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12

Gently move the frame back and forth underwater to get an even layer of pulp on the screen. Try to keep the pan leveled so the pulp settles evenly.

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13

Carefully lift the frame straight out of the bin. Keep it flat until most of the water has drained out.

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14

Gently press the pulp with the palm of your hand to thoroughly squeeze out extra water.

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15

Blot the bottom of the screen with a sponge to dry it.

Finish the Paper

16

Place a clean towel on a flat surface.

17

Carefully peel off the tape and lift out the screen.

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18

Place the screen on the towels.

19

Place the second screen over the pulp. Pat it with a sponge or towel.

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20

Gently lift the top screen. Then flip the paper and remaining screen over. Place it on a new towel.

21

Slowly and gently lift the screen, leaving behind just the sheet of paper.

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22

Cover the paper with another towel. Press down with your hands or a rolling pin to squeeze out moisture.

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23

Carefully transfer the paper onto a newspaper. Let it dry for a few hours.

24

When the paper is dry, gently peel it off.

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25

Make something special with your new paper, like a greeting card, origami, a book, or bookmarks!

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Image Credits:

All photos courtesy of American Museum of Natural History