Tag Archives: paper

Handmade Paper

For a long time now I’ve been meaning to have a go at making paper.  My lovely Dad bought me a deckle and mould a couple of years ago and i finally got the chance to put them into practice over the weekend.  If you don’t happen to have a deckle and mould (and I suspect not many people will!) then you can make your own quite cheaply using picture frames.

Handmade paper is a great way of recycling used paper – non-glossy, without too much black ink on it is what you’re after.  Unfortunately recycled paper isn’t suitable as the fibres are too short and won’t gel together particularly well to form new paper.

Once you’ve collected the paper you’re going to use you need to tear it into thin strips or simply shred it if you’ve got access to a shredder.

It then needs to soak in a bowl of cold water overnight so the fibres soak up as much water as possible.

You’re now ready to start the messy process of making the paper itself, so it’s a good idea to get everything organised.

You’ll need a pile of newspapers on the table, covered with an old towel.  This is going to be where you’ll place your sheets of handmade paper as they come out of the mould (you’ll need plenty of tea towels too – one to lay over each piece of paper to soak up the water).

Next to the towel covered pile of newspapers you need a large container into which you pour cold water to a depth of about 2 inches (it’s better to have too little water than too much as you can always add water later).

Now it’s time to prepare your shredded paper that’s been soaking.  Squeeze a few handfuls out, pop them in the food processor, cover with water and blitz until they form a paste.

Transfer this paste to the shallow water bath on your table and give it a stir.  Repeat the above stages until you’ve turned all your shredded paper into paste and stirred it all in the water bath.

At this stage you can add glitter, scraps of yarn, or dried flowers to the mixture and stir them in carefully.

You’re now ready to make paper!  Holding the mould so that the net section is nearest to you pop the deckle on top of the mould.  The deckle will give you a nice neat edge to your paper.  Holding both the deckle and mould together, slide them into the water bath at an angle of about 45 degrees and gently scoop up some of the water pulp.  Gently withdraw the deckle and mould making sure the pulp is evenly distributed on the netting.  If you give it a little shake as you pull it out of the bath this will help.  Make sure all the water has drained through the netting (if you tilt the deckle and mould the water should drain out of the corner).  It’s really important that your water bath is big enough.  Mine was only just large enough and it was quite a struggle to get the pulp onto the deckle, but it was the largest container I could find.  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for something larger that I can use for my next batch!



Lift off the deckle and place a clean tea towel on top of the layer of pulp which will become your paper.  Carefully flip it over onto the pile of newspapers on your table.  If you rub your fingers over the netting then the paper should start to come away from the mould and stick to the tea towel instead.  You can then pop another clean tea towel on top and get on with making your second sheet.  Continue in this way until you’ve used up all of the pulp, layering up your sheets of paper with tea towels between them as you go.


To get as much water out of your paper as possible, pop a chopping board and a heavy pan on top of the pile of papers to weigh them down and leave for a good half hour.



Once the half hour’s up, you can remove the pan etc and take off the top cloth.  You’ll find that the handmade paper sticks to the tea towels.  What you do next is to hang the tea towels, with the paper attached to them, and leave them to dry overnight or longer (mine took two nights).

You should then be able to carefully peel away your handmade paper and give the sheets a gentle iron if the edges have curled up.

I’m definitely going to experiment with adding different bits to the pulp and I might try putting tea bags in the water bath to see if it will give my paper a sepia colour!






Mini Noticeboard

I’m definitely one of those people who keep things in ‘safe places’.  You know the places I mean?  They seem a really good idea at the time, but when it comes to actually finding the receipt or piece of paper you need, somehow you can’t quite remember where you put them!


What could be better then than a little mini noticeboard so I can clip receipts etc in full view.  I had a few of these mdf mini boards left over from a workshop a few years ago, so thought I’d have a go at decorating one.


I had a root around my paper and card stash and found a lovely piece of thin card with a pattern and wording I really liked.

I placed the board onto a piece of baking paper and drew around it, making sure I marked where the holes were too.  I was then able to draw the exact shape I wanted onto the baking paper and cut it out.  Because the baking paper is translucent, it’s easy to place it over the card and position it so that you get it exactly where you want it before drawing around the edges and cutting out the card.


I used double sided sticky tape on the back of the card to attach it to the board.



I thought a couple of buttons might be a nice addition, so had a little play around with various colours and shapes before deciding on two yellow flower buttons (which I attached with small pieces of double sided tape).


I then used a gold gel pen to work my way around the edges of the card to give it a bit of definition.




Next it was time to add the two little pegs.  They came in a mini jar and I thought about leaving them as they were (plain wood) but then had a go colouring them in using the gold gel pen.



I used double sided tape again to attach the pegs to the board, making sure I spaced them evenly apart and the board was almost finished.


I was tempted to use some twine to hang the board but settled for a nice piece of yellow ribbon from my stash in the end.  It was just a case of threading it through the holes and knotting it at the back and hey presto, one mini noticeboard!


Wedding Drawers

I still have a few bits and pieces left over from my wedding last June, including these gorgeous serviettes.  Like lots of other things, they’ve been living in a basket until I could decide what to do with them.

Well, last week it came to me!



Now that I’m finally managing to reduce my stash, I’ve been moving things around in my craft room and realised that I could do with some drawers under my desk (an old kitchen table).  We’d recently visited Orange Box North East, a furniture collection and redistribution community interest company where I found a small set of drawers that would go perfectly in the space, and they only cost me £8.  I wanted to use the serviettes to decorate them.


Once I got the drawers home, I gave them a good wipe down, but other than that there was no preparation needed.

I gathered together my serviettes, pva/water glue and brush.   Now most decent quality serviettes are 3-ply, ie they’re made up of 3 layers, with only the outer layer being decorated.  When using serviettes for decoupage, you only need the top layer which is really thin.  I found that the bottom layer came away quite easily, but it was slightly trickier to remove the middle plain white layer which seemed to be attached to the patterned outer layer.  In the end I realised that if I ripped these two layers together, then the bottom one would come away slightly allowing me to lift it up and gently pull it away leaving me with the patterned outer layer that I wanted.  I worked my way through the pile until I’d separated all of the layers, and put the white bits to one side as I’m sure there must be something I can do with them (but I’m not quite sure what just yet!)

Next I divided up the patterned layers and worked out how many I could afford to use on each section of the drawers.  I didn’t want to find I’d only got a few left, but still had quite a bit to cover.  I had more of the pink ones than the yellow ones, so decided to just use pink for the drawers themselves, but to use a mixture of pink and yellow for the main shell of the drawers.

Once I knew how many I had to work with, I ripped the serviettes up roughly and mixed in the two designs so that I could just pick them up at random as I worked.  The principle is really simple.  Making sure you don’t use too much glue so that the paper becomes soggy and rips, glue your first piece of paper onto your surface and use your brush to carefully brush it flat and remove any air bubbles and as many of the wrinkles as you can.


Continue adding a piece at a time, overlapping them carefully as you go.

There are lots of tutorials showing how to decoupage without wrinkles in your work, but to be honest it’s quite fiddly to do (especially with thin serviettes).  Personally I like the wrinkled look, but if you want yours perfectly flat then I recommend you start with a smaller project and be prepared to take it nice and slow until you perfect the technique.

With practice you’ll realise how much glue to spread on the surface and how much to put on the top of your paper.  You’re aiming for enough so that the piece sticks, but not too much that it rips or moves about which can be really frustrating.  You’ll soon get the hang of it!

Continue working your way over all of the surfaces, remembering to cover all of the bits that will be on view when the drawers are pulled open too.

A larger item like these drawers will take a few days to do, but it’s really therapeutic and thoroughly enjoyable.  Just make sure you take your time, and keep looking over each of the surfaces to make sure you haven’t missed a bit!  Once everywhere is covered, go over the whole thing again with your pva glue to give it a good finish.

Now I’ve got no excuse not to sort out all my paperwork!!