Soon-to-be-paper in the frame.

The 4th of July usually means family, friends, backyards and barbecues.  Last year it meant getting my first flat tire. This year it meant paper making!  (So much better than a flat tire any day.)

My sister, Alice, has been making paper and books from hand-made paper made from old library cards for an art exhibit and had been promising to show me how to make paper for months.  Having gotten all of the above mentioned 4th of July activities taken care of on the 3rd of July what was left for the 4th, but pulp, deckles & frames and eventually some hand-made paper.

How does one make paper?   You first start with an activity that was handed down to me by my mom.  Shredding. Mom loved shredding and so do I.

Alice and I shredded old library cards (Alice has been re-purposing old library cards for artwork and hand-made books.) We then took the shreds and put them in a blender with water to make some pulp.  Then, with a deckle and frame (pictured above) you scoop out some of the pulp…shake, shake, shake, then carefully flip the deckle over onto some felt, soak up the excess liquid from the back of the deckle and finally release the soon-to-be-paper. After you’ve done this for hours and hours take a break for a cocktail and then decide to throw in some flowers, buds, leaves and grass into your paper pulp. Continue for many more hours.  Once you or the pulp is exhausted take all the paper stacked between pieces of felt and put them into a press. The press consists of two pieces of wood attached at each corner with a long bolt and screw.  Tighten the press which will squeeze even more liquid out of the paper.

In the morning, remove the paper from the press and lay it out to dry.  Since we are having a heat wave this part didn’t take long at all!

Sheets of paper laying out to dry.

Here are some helpful hints to making paper.  1.Do it at your sister’s house.  This will avoid any mess in your own.  2.Do it outside for the same reason as #1.  3.Do not ask your 17-year-old smart-alec nephew to gather some flowers and leaves as he will come back with some plastic flowers from a party lei and then laugh and laugh.   4.Enjoy.

Finished paper!