A great way to recycle old paper… is to make new paper! Instead of throwing away old scraps of paper, reuse dirty or marked up pages to create a wonderful, sensory experience.
- picture frame and screen
- used paper
- decorations: flowers, seeds, leaves, vegetable and fruit scraps, food coloring or paint
- tub or bowl
- shallow basin
- towel or sponge
- Build a mold. Take an old picture frame and staple a screen to it tightly. You can also shape an old wire hanger into a square and slip an old pantyhose to use as a mold.
- Gather paper ingredients. Look through your recycling bin or around the house for any paper you can reuse. Used coloring pages, envelopes, junk mail, wrapping, tissue and copy papers will all work well for this project. Collect vegetable or fruit scraps and plant materials. Orange zest, carrot skins, herbs, dandelions or pieces of plants from your backyard will add a special touch to your finished product. To add color you can use food coloring or paint.
- Make the pulp. Tear papers into small pieces and soak in a tub or bowl of water for a few hours or overnight. If you’re in a hurry, soak paper in boiling water for 30 to 60 minutes. Fill a blender three-quarters full with water. Add a handful of wet paper into the blender. Blend paper until there are no large pieces left. Add more water if the pulp is too thick. You can add the decorations at this stage – especially if you’d like the pieces to be chopped up or wait to add them in the next stage. If you don’t have a blender, you can use a spoon or a mortar and pestle to mash the pieces of paper into pulp.
- Turn pulp into paper. Fill a shallow basin such as a plastic container or a cookie sheet with water and the pulp. Stir the mixture and add decorations – plant fibers, food coloring or paint, etc. Dip the frame into the mixture and swish the frame around to get an even amount of pulp on the screen. Set the frame on the edge of the basin to let the paper drip-dry. After a few minutes use a towel or sponge to blot away as much liquid as possible. Place the paper face down on a towel or felt. Gently lift the screen. If the paper is stuck, start to peel off the paper at the edges. If the paper is still too wet, cover the paper with another towel and use a rolling pin to remove the excess water. Let the paper dry completely. If you’d like your paper to dry quickly, place pages on cookie sheets in the oven at the lowest setting for a few minutes. Leave the oven door slightly ajar.
More Ways to Have Fun:
If you forgot to add color to your pulp mixture, you can spray your dried paper with watered down paint.
Try using lemon juice as invisible ink! When lemon juice dries on paper, it is almost undetectable. After writing messages with a q-tip, let it dry. Then, use a heat source (probably a candle – parents only) see if you can decode each other’s messages!