Have you ever wondered how paper is made? It is often made with machines these days, but it used to be made by hand. You get to find out how with this activity!
1. Fill a sink (or tub) 1/3 full of water. Cover the edges of a screen with heavy tape; place in sink.
2. Tear paper into pieces the size of large postage stamps; arrange in piles by color.
3. Cut small decorative scraps. Vary the sizes from 1/8 to 2 inches (30 mm to 2 cm).
4. Fill blender 1/2 - 3/4 full with lukewarm water.
5. From the piles, choose a primary color for the paper. Add a handful of those scraps to the blender. Cover and blend on medium-high for a few seconds. The mixture should start to look like watery oatmeal.
6. Add more scraps one by one, giving a short blast with the blender each time. (Put smaller scraps in first, then larger, so the paper will look more interesting.)
7. Add the decorative scraps; mix these in by hand, with a spoon. Don’t go overboard with the decorative scraps, because the pulp mixture needs to be 1 part scraps to 4 parts water, and the blender should not be more than 3/4 full.
8. Empty the blender into the sink or tub. Swirl it around so that pulp is spread throughout the water.
9. Move the screen back and forth until the pulp is spread evenly across the surface of the screen. Pull the screen straight up out of the tub so that the pulp fills the screen to the inner edges of the frame.
10. Hold the screen above the tub until only a few drops of water remain on the screen. (If the paper looks too thin, add more pulp to the water in the tub, swirl, and dip the screen again. If the paper looks too thick, remove some pulp from the tub and dip the screen again.)
11. Lay several sheets of felt, old newspapers, or towels on a flat surface. Turn the frame over on top of the felt. Remove the frame and lay another felt on top of the pulp.
12. Use a rolling pin to squeeze out the excess water. Start at one end and roll firmly and evenly across the pile. Do this several times to remove as much water as possible and press the fibers together.
13. Remove the top layer of felt from the pulp. Carefully lift two corners of the paper with each hand and gently peel away from the bottom felt.
14. Dry the paper by placing it in a warm oven at 250 degrees (1 hour); placing it in a patch of sunlight (3 hours); or clipping it to a laundry line with clothespins (3 hours). If the paper is wrinkled, press it between 2 heavy books overnight.