Creating Handmade Paper Pulp in Your Kitchen
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Creating Handmade Paper Pulp in Your Kitchen

Make your own paper pulp at home to create your own paper art castings. Recycle and reuse scrap paper and turn it into art.

Creating handmade paper pulp for the end purpose of casting it into molds can be done cheaply, quickly and with almost no mess right in your kitchen.

You will need:

A blender - You can get a blender at the thrift store or garage sale but if you have one already sitting in the back corner of your cupboard that you never use why not put it into service. I have only burned out two blenders in more than 15 years.

Scrap paper - For the purposes of casting paper, as opposed to pulp for making sheets, you will be more successful and get better results if you avoid using a lot of fibrous plant materials and additives such as seeds, grasses and glitter and flower pedals. You can make very good casting pulp from scrap mat board that you can get from frame shops. Most scrap papers other than newspaper or magazines is useable.

Molds and forms - These can be simple to elaborate designs but should have only very shallow undercuts if any at all. You can make your own molds or you can use cookie, candy and gelatin molds as well as other objects such as platters and serving trays with designs etched or embossed in them.

Sponges and towels - Get the big car washing sponges. It is helpful to keep several bath towels at hand that can also be acquired at garage sales or thrift stores.

Step 1- Soak the Paper Scrap

Fill your sink with hot water and tear up your paper into 1-2 inch squares and leave to soak until the paper is saturated. If you are using mat board and want a solid white casting paper, soak the larger pieces and the color part will float off leaving you with the white core to use for pulping. Just remember that whatever color you use to make your pulp will provide the same color in a lighter shade after pulping. Soaking paper can take anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple hours.

Step 2 - Pulp the Paper Scrap

Gather a medium handful of soaked paper and put it in your blender. Fill your blender with cool water, put on the lid and start it up at the lowest level. Work your way up to the puree setting and let it run for about 30 seconds to one minute. If you hear your blender balking and straining you may have to dump off some of the pulp into a bowl and top off your blender with additional water. Your end product should have the consistency of thin oatmeal or thick cream of wheat. Dump the contents of your blender into a bowl or bucket and continue making more pulp if needed. The amount of pulp depends on the size of your project.

Step 3 - Drain Pulp

Prior to filling your mold you will need to drain excess water from the pulp. A strainer lined with a thin fabric that can easily allow water to drain through works well. If you don’t line the strainer you will lose a lot of your pulp down the drain. Do not press down on or squeeze the pulp. Dump the pulp back into your bowl or bucket. You want your pulp to have a thick wet consistency.

Step 4 - Fill the Mold

Most molds do not need to be coated with any kind of release agent however now and then you might find that a particular mold sticks and you may have to coat it in the future with a very thin layer of mineral oil, cooking spray or Vaseline. Gently pick up handfuls of wet pulp and fill the mold. Press down the pulp with a sponge and squeeze out the water continuing to add more pulp and press out more water until the mold is full.

Step 5 - Dry and Release

Let your filled mold dry completely then gently wiggle and lift the paper casting until it releases.

Making your own molds for casting paper is easy and allows you more individual creativity. 

Processing plant fibers is a little more labor intensive and not really appropriate for blenders.

These projects are perfect for a hot summer day and dry quickly in the sun. You can also dry these projects in a warm oven in the winter provided you are using molds that won't melt in the oven or sitting near your wood stove.

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Comments (6)

RT'd via @nostate on Twitter.

Thanks Donald! I've been working with papermaking for more than 15 years. I love it. I will be happy to answer any questions.

Ranked #4 in Paper Crafts

I should think that those fluffy cardboard egg-cartons would make the BEST paper pulp, as these were formed from recycled paper pulp anyway and are already shredded and strained. Just adding these to a bucket of water and you've got 'paper fluff' very quickly.

Yes, they work great for castings! And yes you don't even have to put them in the blender. One thing that works well is using those mixers that fit on the end of your drill that contractors use. Just put the soggy paper products in a five gallon bucket and go to town. You also might need to add a little white glue for sizing as they don't have much in them. They don't work as well for pulling sheets of paper because they are not fibrous.

Informative article! Thank you! I am an art teacher and work with elementary school aged students. This might be a project we do in the future. What objects that are readily available and inexpensive can be used as an interesting mold? Would shredded scrap paper (paper which has been printed on with toner ink) be good to use or would the ink/toner make the paper gray?

@Clara - thank you for the great questions. Molds can be anything - jello molds, candy molds, cookie cutters, decorative cake pans. You can also use welcome mats that have pretty designs on them. You can lay objects in a box and pack the pulp on top (not too thick). One of my favorites is to use Lego blocks to pack the paper on top of. I have also used styrofoam forms that come out of boxed items like electronics etc. (not the peanuts).

Regarding the scrap paper; printed paper is fine. It will leave teeny tiny speckles in the paper that will barely be noticed. Once I used sheet music and intentionally did not blend it well and there were random notes throughout. Just be sure that the shredded paper does not have staples in it. At my school, the shredder is used for all kinds of stapled documents. I suggest that you start with a clean shredder bag and monitor the scrap that goes in it for your papermaking project.