How to Make Recycled Paper Without Mold and Deckle
Updated: Jun 22
I don't know exactly what it is about recycled paper, but it feels SO good to make them! Maybe it's the fact that you can make something like paper (that looks way more aesthetically pleasing than factory processed sheets) out of scratch, or it could be the proud and accomplished feeling you get from choosing to recycling rather than burning to release toxic fumes. Trust me, I would know since I've done my fair share of burning old notes and contributing to global warming...yikes!
Anyways, I've come across a lot of tutorials on how to make recycled paper but most of them required things like a mold and deckle (aka frame, mesh, and screen), paper towels and what not. I had none of those things in my possession which led me to improvise with whatever I had in my household. And now I'll be sharing my wisdom with you!
What you'll need:
Used paper/old egg cartons
Small sheet of polythene
Get your waste paper and tear them into small bits. The smaller the better. Here, I've used 5 CR book pages from my brothers Chemistry or Physics (not sure which since Thermodynamics was taught in both subjects, right?) notebook. I swear it's an old one and he doesn't need it anymore!
Soak the paper overnight. Yeah, this is where you need that patience.
Side note: I know the image looks like my paper isn't soaking but floating. I swear that's not the case! Guess my phone camera just doesn't pick it up. So I want to emphasize once again that the paper bits must be drenched and submerged.
I also tore up an old egg carton to see how that would turn out. In the end, I noticed that one 10-egg carton yielded three times more recycled paper than the 5 sheets of A4 sized paper.
Once the paper has soaked and become soggy, strain the water (not a compulsory step but I feel like the paper comes out more clean if you strain the water left from soaking), throw the paper into a blender, add some fresh water, and grind it to a smooth pulp. Avoid adding a lot of paper at once since it might heat up your blender.
Drop the pulp into a container that's wide enough to put your sieve in and fill it up with water three times the amount of pulp. It doesn't have to exact; just eyeball it. It would be better if you can find a container that is wide and shallow unlike mine. That would make it easier for you to dip the sieve and collect pulp.
You can also add some dried flower petals, leaves, and what not onto the surface of the pulp so that you get a pretty petal print on your recycled paper.
Dip your sieve in and collect some pulp into it. Swish it around a bit while dipped in so that you get an even layer of pulp on your sieve mesh. Sorry, I totally forgot to snap pictures of that process! But once you've done that, it will look as follows.
Now place the polythene sheet (I've used a small shopping bag from the grocery store) on top of the pulp layer and press on it to push any excess water through the sieve. You can can use a folded cloth to press on it to avoid any hand-prints.
Once that's done, flip the sieve onto a fresh, absorbing cloth, and tap on it to make the pulp drop.
Place the polythene sheet over it once again and pat on it to get rid of any creases. Then set it out to dry. DO NOT touch it or try to lift it off until sufficiently dry, or you'll end up ripping it. So that's another occasion you'll need that patience I mentioned earlier.
In the photo below, the one on the right was made with note paper pulp and flower petals, and the one on the right was with egg carton pulp. Now, the edges may look very jagged and rough but you can either cut them off once dried, or leave them as they are for added aesthetic.
After the papers have completely dried, you can cut off the edges to make whatever shape you like. I cut mine into rectangles. Love how they turned out!
Important Note: DO NOT FORGET to clean up after yourself!