I was considering recently ways to reuse paper scraps from the paper shredder. Some sites suggested using them as cushioning in packages, for gift bag stuffing, for Easter baskets, or for pet cage bedding. Well, I don’t send packages that need cushioning very often, Easter isn’t until next year, I don’t own any pets that would need cage bedding, and I imagine digging through confetti to find the gift in a bag would be very messy and annoying. Another thing, too: the people who receive the package, gift, or basket will most likely throw out the paper shreds right away. None of these solutions seemed like a very lasting reuse of paper shreds.
Then, I stumbled across a tutorial for taking paper scraps and turning them back into full sheets of paper. The project is pretty messy, but it sounds really fun, and I can’t wait to try it myself. Not to mention, if you want, you can be creative and decorative with this project!
Picture courtesy of: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hand_made_paper.jpg
Most steps in this project are pretty harmless, but I suggest supervising your kids for the sake of controlling the mess factor.
-Unwanted scrap paper- paper shreds, newspaper, old bills, junk mail, construction paper, etc.
-Liquid starch (optional)
-Plain wooden frame to the size of the paper you want to make
-Window screening, cut larger than the size of the frame
-Staples or tacks
-Dishpan or plastic storage container large enough to fit the entire frame inside
-Pieces of felt or flannel fabric slightly larger than the wooden frame
-Weight (bricks, phone books, dictionaries, etc.)
-Clothesline and clothespins (or just a safe place for drying)
1. Staple or tack the window screen onto all four sides of the frame, as tightly as possible. Trim off the excess edges. This apparatus will be the paper mold.
2. If your paper is not already shredded, tear it into small pieces and fill the blender about half full with paper pieces. Add warm water until the blender is close to full.
3. Blend on low speed until smooth and there are no bits of paper, only pulp.
4. Fill your dishpan or large container about half full with warm water. Add two or three blender batches of paper pulp to the container (the more pulp you add, the thicker your paper will be). You may now add two teaspoons of liquid starch, if you want. If the paper will be used for writing, you should add the starch; it helps to prevent inks from soaking into the fibers. Stir the mixture.
5. Submerge the mold into the mixture and shake it from side to side until the layer of pulp on top of the screen looks even.
6. Lift the mold out of the dishpan and allow the water to drip off.
7. When dripping has stopped, lay the felt or flannel gently across the pulp and pat it into place lightly. Then, turn the mold upside down so the fabric is on bottom, the mold is on top, and the pulp is sandwiched in between.
8. Use your sponge to gently press out as much water as possible. Carefully lift the mold off of the fabric and pulp. You may have to peel the pulp away from the screen. Place the sheet onto a cookie sheet, fabric side down.
9. Repeat these steps until you’ve used all your pulp (or you get sick of it). Continue to stack the fabric and paper onto the cookie sheet so there are layers of fabric between the sheets of paper. Place a final layer of fabric on top of the stack.
10. Place another cookie sheet and weight onto the top of the stack to press out more water.
11. After a few minutes of pressing, remove the cookie sheet and weight. Separate the sheets of fabric and paper and hang them up to dry, either on a clothesline, or lay them out to dry in a safe place where they won’t be damaged or blown away.
12. Once dry (after about a half an hour or so), you can peel the sheets of paper away from the fabric, and there you have it! Homemade, 100% recycled paper. If you make enough sheets, you could put together your own notebook, made from 100% recycled paper.
If these directions seem a little complicated (they were for me when I read through them for the first time) watch this video on Youtube. I helped me understand much better with a visual!
You can make your paper fancy and decorative by adding grass, flowers, sparkles, and different colored papers into your mix to create an artsy, collage sort of effect. These decorative sheets can make beautiful cards or scrapbooking supplies.
Picture courtesy of: http://texturly.com/beta/2011/02/handmade-paper/
If you don’t want to make your own paper mold, you can purchase a paper making kit on Amazon.
Send pictures of your projects to Viridorari at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will feature your project on the next edition of "Recycling Projects for Kids!"
Animal of the Month Update
Picture courtesy of: http://ataiwaneseinafrica.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/american-pie-and-mountain-gorilla/
The Mountain gorilla’s scientific name is Gorilla beringei beringei. Male silverback mountain gorillas develop their characteristic silver fur when they are about thirteen years old, which is when they reach adulthood.
Mountain gorillas live in groups of up to thirty individuals called troops, which consist of one older dominant male, called a silverback because of the color of his fur, several young males, some females, and their offspring. The leader conducts group activities, such as eating, nesting, and moving around the troop’s territory. The territory can be as small as one square mile or as large as sixteen square miles.
Picture courtesy of: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/mountain-gorilla/