how to make homemade seeded paper!

DIY

In light of my thesis work about helping the environment and bringing connections to people through the art I am making, I have decided to share with you how to make seeded paper at home (accompanied by hand drawn illustrations by me)!  This project is fun for the whole family, or as a fun project to work on with friends; and when you’re done, you can share it with others as party favors or gifts, or save it for yourself to watch it grow!

What you will need:

recyclable paper: you can use newspaper, printer paper, or even construction paper – but remember, the heavier the paper, the harder it will be to turn it into pulp

a large bowl: this should be large enough to hold your paper scraps while they are soaking to break down into a pulp

an embroidery hoop: you can get whatever size you’d like, but this is the shape of the screen that will determine how big your paper is

loosely woven burlap: this will create the lining of the embroidery hoop screen to make your paper

seeds: any small seeds will work!

latex gloves: optional – this will keep your hands from getting wrinkly working with so much wet paper

a dry, non-stick surface to dry your paper

Let’s Begin! 

paper1-011) Find old scrap paper that you want to recycle, and rip it into tiny chunks (between the size of a quarter or a dime).

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2) Get a bowl of water and submerge the paper scraps.

3) Soak the paper scraps in the water until they become soft and easy to break apart.

paper3-03

4) Mash the soft paper with your hands until it becomes a pulpy consistency. (From this point on, I wear latex gloves to keep my hands clean while working with the paper pulp – and because I’m not a huge fan of getting pruny fingers.)

Note: Some recipes for homemade paper suggest using a blender to create a more fine consistency of pulp, but I prefer the hand torn look for a few reasons.  It visually shows that the paper is made by-hand, which I find aesthetically pleasing.  More importantly though, it brings you into more heartfelt experience, because you’re forming the base of the paper it with your own hands.

5) Secure the burlap in the embroidery hoop to create your screen. Take your handmade screen and pat the pulp on the form until it is flat.  The pulp should be about an eighth of an inch in thickness for stability and no longer dripping from soaking in the water.

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6) Scatter seeds onto the pulp while it is in the mold, and press the seeds into the paper so they do not come loose.  The seeds should not just be sitting on top like sprinkles on a cupcake, but become a part of the paper.paper5-05

7) Pop your paper out of the mold and place on a flat surface to dry.  I use cardboard covered in aluminum foil to keep the wet paper from sticking to the surface it’s drying on; but if you don’t have that, get creative!  Just make sure your surface is flat, and the paper can’t stick to it.

8) Leave in a dry, warm, and sunny space to dry.  It’s best to leave your paper outside on a warm and sunny day to dry fastest, but indoors on a sunny window will also work if the weather is not perfect – such as cool, cloudy, or extremely humid.

Note: The paper will take about 24 hours to dry, or longer, depending on how thick the paper is, and what conditions it is drying in.

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9) Once the paper is dry you’re done!  You now have wonderful seeded paper rounds to give as gifts, or plant around you home! (And if you haven’t realized it yet, because of their round shape, they’re extra easy to fit in a flower pot to start the seeds!)

Now that you’ve made seeded paper once, you can continue experimenting with your own paper recipe.  Try using selective colors of paper, dying your paper scraps with natural dyes, adding flower petals or leaves, or arranging the seeds in a pattern!  See what others are doing with seeded paper; the possibilities are endless!

Happy making! 🙂

– Annie

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