This is a great craft activity to do with children. Families, clubs and classrooms can have fun making something useful and beautiful out of scraps of old paper and other items commonly found around the house.
What you’ll need:
- a blender
- warm water
- scraps of old paper torn into small pieces (soft, thick paper like construction paper works great — you can also include dryer lint — but don’t use dryer lint ONLY since it won’t give your paper enough body)
- a plain wooden picture frame (8″x10″)
- a piece of window screen material (12″x14″ or larger)
- a staple gun or waterproof glue
- two large plastic dish pans or baby bathtubs
- clean rags (at least 15″x15″ square)
- old newspapers
- a rolling pin
- metal shears to cut the screen
- Optional: spray starch, iron
Place the torn scraps of paper and warm water into a large pan to soak until saturated and soft (the resulting paper pulp mixture is called “slurry”).
Meanwhile, stretch the screen over the picture frame and staple screen to the frame. Scoop out one cup of slurry, put into blender and add water to fill blender. (If you want pure white paper, add 1/4 cup chlorine bleach at this point.) Blend for a few seconds until it’s smooth and mushy. Pour paper mush into large tub. Repeat several times until there’s about 5 inches of mushy water in the tub. For texture and color in your paper, you can now add to the paper mush in the tub: shredded corn husks, fine sawdust, crumbled or whole dry leaves, dry grass, shredded dry onion skins, grated dry fruit skins, dry flower petals, dryer lint. Be creative.
Dip the screened picture frame under the mush; then holding the frame level, shift it back and forth until a layer of mush settles evenly over the surface. This layer should be about 1/2-inch thick. Without tilting frame, lift frame and mush layer out of the dishpan. Hold over the pan to allow the water to drain out. If the mush clumps together or there are holes, put the frame back under the mush layer in the dishpan and start again. (The mash left on the frame is called “wet leaf.”)