DIY Paper: Transforming Household Scraps and Yard Waste Into Art
It’s actually quite amazing how many things we can make into paper. One innovative company figured out how to turn elephant poo into paper! Although it’s not recommended that you try this at home. Luckily, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly gift wrap, science project, or arts & crafts, you need only look as far as your home and yard.
What Materials Can Be Used for DIY Paper?
Various materials can be combined in creative ways to make paper with unique colors, patterns, and textures. Throughout the ages, the paper has been made from almost every organic material you can think of. Many of these you probably have lying around your home:
- Old clothing made of organic materials (cotton, hemp, wool, natural leather)
- Scrap paper and cardboard
- Kitchen scraps (leafy greens, rice, fruit/veggie skins & seeds)
- Yard waste (small sticks, fallen leaves, grass/shrub clippings, bamboo)
- Experiment! Not all plants have enough cellulose strong enough to form paper sheets. So, make sure you add plenty of stronger materials like leaf/stalk/bark to it.
Remember that the color of the material may not be the same as the final product. Once the paper is dry, you can drizzle or paint it with natural dyes from carrots, berries, boiled grass clippings, used coffee grounds, etc.
Making DIY Paper
First, you will need to cut the materials into smaller scraps and lay wet materials out to dry completely. Once the materials are completely dry, trim them down to a smaller size (if possible). Then, simmer them in boiling water. Cooking times will vary, but the goal is to break down the fibers to as small as possible. Let the water cool and pour everything into a blender. Run it at varying speeds until the fibers disperse into the water, and the liquid becomes pulpy. The smoother the pulp, the smoother the final product will be. Avoid large chunks, but small chunks may yield interesting designs.
To dry the pulp, you will need a drying rack. Various DIY drying rack designs range in size from a single sheet to many layers. To make a simple rack at home, you can use an old picture frame with the backing and glass removed. Staple screen material or cheesecloth, ensuring there is no slack in the material.
Spread the pulp evenly across the screen and allow it to dry in the sun or other warm, dry place. Viola! You now have homemade paper you can use as gifts, gift wrap, or anything else your heart desires.