Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recycled Paper

The other day we were sitting together around the breakfast table. I asked the girls what they would like to do together, and Zosia, without hesitation, declared "Make paper." She had actually said she would like to do this a couple of times before, but on this day, I thought, "Okay, why not?" After sitting together for a few minutes around my laptop looking at youtube videos of recycling paper, we knew what we needed to do.

First, assemble your supplies:

a tub of old paper (junk mail, scraps from cutting projects, even tissue paper or tissue itself works!)

A piece of mesh fabric or a screen. I put it in a cake pan that was not fully closed, but as we went, just put it on a plate and drained it slowly. So I guess all you need is the mesh and a plate.
Flower petals or leaves. This is optional, but a nice touch.

A piece of felt and some towels (I found that cloth diapers are best, as they are super absorbent. You could also skip the felt if you don't have it and just do a towel or cloth diaper)

And a blender. Okay. Now rip your paper into pieces, fill your blender with it, and fill it with water. Blend (pressing down as necessary between actual blending: it should have plenty of water and be pretty easy to blend).

Now it should look like this:

Pour it back into that container, and mix in your petals or leaves:

Now here's the step I don't have a great picture of because I was too busy actually doing it: ladle some of your mixture onto the mesh cloth which is on a plate. Gently drain it out with your hands as the paper mixture settles, spreading it carefully as you go. When the whole plate is covered with a thin layer of "paper", invert it onto your felt, which is resting on a towel or cloth diaper:

Now pat, pat pat. Of course both girls loved this. You may need to get in there and press down quite firmly (the more dry your paper now, the sooner it will be fully dry).

Gently peel away the mesh cloth, and you have something like this:

The girls couldn't resist leaving a hand print:


Wait for a few hours, and your paper will be dry enough to gently remove from the towels onto a drying rack. Now just leave it, preferably in a sunny warm spot, for a day or two (we ended up finishing the drying process in a warm oven, actually: although you would want to watch this closely).

And despite how messy it may look or sound, this was actually quite an easy activity to do with two toddlers helping. All that required clean up was the tub, the blender, and a few damp cloths to toss in the dryer.

Have you recycled paper before? Any tricks of the trade?

No comments: