I recently read a homesteading book that included a craft I had never encountered before. Handmade paper.
The instructions seemed pretty easy, so my oldest son and I decided to give it a whirl.
To make the paper, you simply use old paper from your house. In our case, this mostly consisted of school papers. We save these when they come home, use the backs for scratch paper, then recycle them. So, instead of recycling them into our bin (plus I'm told our local recycling company is not recycling right now but simply landfilling because of costs, grrrrr)..... we recycled the paper into "new" paper!
You shred your old paper and put it into a blender. Add 1/2 cup hot water for every 2 cups paper. Blend it until it resembles creamy soup. Then pour it into a baking or shallow pan (make sure the pan is the size that you want your finished paper to be.
Then slide a piece of plastic window screen that has been cut to fit the pan under the wet paper mixture.
Lift the screen out of the pan, keeping it level, and hold it there for a minute or two to allow the extra water to drip off.
Then you need to have your blotting area ready. Old newspapers are layed on a table (these will soak up the extra water) and the newspaper is covered with a piece of felt. Then lay the screen on top of the felt. Place another piece of felt on top of the screen, followed by more newspapers. Don't worry,the paper won't stick to the felt.
Take a rolling pin and roll out the extra moisture. Put your muscles into it! The newspapers will become waterlogged, so toss the wet ones into your compost pile and replace them with fresh ones until you have rolled out most of the water.
Then, lay the screen somewhere flat to dry. This will take at least 24 hours. Congrats! You've made paper.
The book also mentioned embedding seeds or dried flowers into the pulp before slipping the screen in. I thought this was such a great idea. I had saved seeds from some lettuce plants and thought it would make great Christmas gifts if cut into bookmarks. The bookmarks could then be used all winter and planted in early spring so the recipient can grow their own lettuce patch! I just had to try.
The only difference, when embedding seeds into the paper, is to get it a bit more dry after rolling out the water. You don't want the seeds to sprout! So, use a hair dryer for a few minutes, just to get a bit more of the moisture out.
Here it is, after drying:
I used pinking shears and cut the paper into bookmarks. I attached a Christmas message, along with planting instructions. There you have it!
A unique, handmade Christmas gift.
If you are a friend or relative, you'll probably be seeing these heading your way soon! Start planning your garden! :-)