Make Your Own Paper

Here’s a great green way to make your own paper for your Book of Shadows, for written spells, or for correspondence. It seems pretty complicated at first, but if you follow one step at a time, it’s really not so hard. Look for ways to add a little magic to your paper-making process!

Recycled paper can be made from old newspaper, phone books, junk mail…pretty much any old paper you have lying around. But be sure to stay away from “shiny” or waxed paper, because it won’t work as well.

Recycling paper uses cellulose (plant fibers) over and over again, it uses less electricity, less water, a lot less pollution, and it saves trees from being cut down!

You will need:
a food processor or an old blender
an electric iron or hair dryer
an old wire hanger
an old pair of panty hose
newspaper or other paper
white glue
liquid starch
water
an insect screen or strainer (optional)
food coloring (optional)
a big sink or tub filled with 4 inches of water

Make sure you have a place to work where you can make a big mess!

Step One:
Make a frame out of the coat hanger. You’ll need a frame for each piece of paper you make. Stretch the hanger and bend it into a rectangle/square shape. Take one leg of the panty hose and stretch it carefully over the hanger frame. Make sure it is tight and flat.

Step Two:
Tear the paper into smaller pieces and soak in water. If you want to “bleach” the paper a little to remove some of the old ink, add a half cup of white vinegar to the water.
Let soak for about 45 minutes.

Step Three
Turn the paper into pulp. You can use a blender, or if you really want to go “old school” – use a mortar and pestle.

Put a handful of the torn up paper and some water into the food processor or blender. Blend the mixture on high until it becomes mushy. Keep adding paper and water until you have a big gray blob. You may have to add a little more water to keep things moving smoothly. Keep the food processor on until all the paper has disappeared. Then leave it on for 2 minutes.

For some color, add a handful of brown or red onion skin (not the onion itself, just the papery outer skin). Remember – onion skins bring stability and endurance. At this point you could also add any kind of herbs to the blender as well, to magically infuse your paper.

Step Four:
Fill the sink or basin about half full of water. Put 2 tablespoons of white glue in the sink water and add all of the paper pulp you just made. Mix it really well. Use your hands. At this point you can also “seize” the paper by adding a few teaspoons of liquid starch to the mix. This helps the paper to hold ink when you write on it. If you don’t add starch, the paper will be highly absorbent, and your ink will likely bleed quite easily.

Step Five:
Scoop the frame to the bottom of the sink, then lift it slowly, paying attention that the layer of pulp is even across the screen. You may want to shake the screen a little to even it out. (Count to 20 slowly while you are lifting.) Let the water drain out over the basin for about a minute.

Step Six:
After the paper has stopped dripping, move the screen to a table top and cover with a piece of fabric (a tea towel, felt, or flannel), Use a sponge to press the towel, absorbing as much liquid as you can. Hang the frames on a clothesline or put them out in the sun. Wait until they are completely dry with no dampness at all. You can then gently peel off the paper.

Step Seven:
Use the iron, set on the hottest setting, to steam out your paper, or use a hair dryer. You can keep making paper until the pulp is all strained out of the sink. Mix up the sink every time you make a new piece.

Try other things like using in insect screen over a wood frame, or a strainer instead of the pantyhose and hanger. Try adding lots of food coloring, for colored paper, or try adding lint or leaves to the food processor. Your paper will have an interesting texture.

Making your own paper can be fun, and it’s a great way to re-use old paper. You can recycle all kinds of paper for re-use. Sometimes paper printed from color-inkjet printers will run, that is, the color will bleed off and become part of your new paper, but that can make for an interesting effect!

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