1. How can I make my paper thicker or thinner? It’s always too thick!
2. What kinds of paper can I recycle?
3. Can I put flowers in my paper?
4. The cover screen leaves a pattern on my paper. How can I avoid this?
5. I’m getting a thin spot in my paper. Am I doing something wrong?
6. I’ve seen Arnold iron right on his sheet to dry it in the video. Doesn’t that hurt the paper?
7. Can’t I make paper just using things around my house?
8. How much paper do I put into the blender?
9. I saved a whole garbage bag full of lint from my dryer. Can I make paper out of it?
10. What should I do with left over pulp?
11. When should I add flowers, metallics or similar items to the pulp? 
12. Which paper making kit is right for me?

 

1. How can I make my paper thicker or thinner? It’s always too thick!

With the POUR mold, your paper can be made thicker or thinner — easily. The following is a very easily used reference point: from any sheet, tear/cut a portion large enough to cover the top of your mold — recycle the portion and form a new sheet. It should be almost exactly as thick as the sheet from which a portion was recycled. Hence, if you want paper twice as thick, recycle a sheet portion twice as big — or half as thick, a portion half as big. With the size of the top of your mold as a reference, you can make paper almost exactly as thick/thin as you wish. For DIP molds, adding water to the vat will make sheets thinner. Adding drained-pulp will make sheets thicker. Changing sheet thickness for DIP molds is more cumbersome and considerably less exact than with POUR molds. For more information, see my book, Arnold Gummer’s Complete Guide To Easy Papermaking, Krause Publications, 1999, ISBN 0-87341-710-0, pp. 45, 46, 151.


Back to Top


2. What kinds of paper can I recycle?

Any kind. Any kind of paper is simply a batch of individual fibers (held together by a natural bond created by withdrawal of water from a wet fiber mat). The fibers can be separated back into pulp by water ( re-wetting weakens the bond) and mechnical action, such as a blender. Therefore, any kind of paper (necessarily being a batch of individual fibers) can be recycled in a blender. Conversely, if it can't be recycled, it isn’t paper. So have fun, recycle microwave popcorn bags, wax sacks, Christmas wrap (foil, metalic inks and all), colorful labels on cans and bottles, ream wrappers (containing thin plastic film), brown or white grocery sacks, paper plates, slick "shiny" papers, and (yes) newspapers (few things are more satisfying than taking an editorial or column I don’t like, and recycling it!!! — Yea for our side!). The number of different kinds of paper you can make in a week out of your waste basket is (to quote teen-agers passing my porch on their way to/from school) AWESOME. See also my book referenced above, pp. 29-32 and 143.


Back to Top


3. Can I put flowers in my paper?

In hand paper making, flowers, petals, grass, pretty weeds, tree leaves and other plants or parts thereof, are referred to under the catch-all heading of "botanicals". Yes, botanicls can be put in the blender and shredded just a bit or a lot, or, they can be put in the POUR hand mold with the pulp. They can be put on the wet surface after a sheet has been formed. Different effects result from the different points of entry. It's a fascinating field of experimentation. Thickness and bulkiness are, obviously, limiting factors. Thin sheets and Ironing-dry can tolerate very little bulkiness. Botanicals can be added freshly plucked or pressed and dried, depending on result desired. For specific placement of items on a sheet’s surface, see "Surface Embedment", p. 86 in the above referenced book, or Vol. 1 of my 3-volume video set, Fun With the Papermill. For DIP molds, addition can be done at the blender or in the vat’s pulp. And of course if you can add or throw in botancials, you can also throw in pieces of cloth, whole or parts of photographs, glitter/glisten, ribbons/threads, thin leather, business cards, illustrations from Christmas cards, etc. Some of these items might require drying-under-pressure rather than heat-drying. Now where is that sheet in which I embedded that $50 bill?


Back to Top


 

4. The cover screen leaves a pattern on my paper. How can I avoid this?

It’s quite easy. Put something else over the newly formed sheet. This will put a different pattern on your paper. Putting different patterns on your paper’s surface can be called "Texturing". See my new book, Arnold Grummer’s Complete Guide to Easy Papermaking, page 98, for easy step-by-step directions to many surface textures (patterns). To avoid the cover screen pattern, don’t use the cover screen. Instead, use a finely woven cloth, or something like Pellon interfacing. (Whatever you use will transmit its texture to your sheet.) After forming the sheet, put the Pellon interfacing directly on the wet mat of fibers. Then (1) remove water with the sponge. (2) Turn the screen/sheet/cloth package upside down so the paper making screen is on the top. (3) Apply the sponge to the screen for additional water removal. (4) Lift the screen. If an appropriate water interface between new sheet and cloth has been established, the sheet, with the aid of gravity, will probably stay with the cloth. (5) Put on couch sheets and press and do the remaining paper making steps. The cloth can be left on all during drying, or, it can likely be transferred from the cloth to the surface of a couch sheet, for more rapid drying. Using cloth, etc. is a little more "iffy" than is the cover screen. The screen is incorporated into my kit because it is the surest, safest, least problematic material for that particular paper making step.


Back to Top


 

5. I’m getting a thin spot in my paper. Am I doing something wrong?

Only in that you probably haven’t looked closely at your paper making screen. Paper making screens are closely woven. Therefore it is easy for fibers to get stuck in some of the screen’s openings. These fibers will cause more to get stuck in subsequent sheets. Soon a sizeable spot in your screen is plugged. This prevents water from going through those openings. Where water doesn’t go - fibers don’t go. Ergo — a thin spot, or even a hole, in your sheet. Rinse your screen in clear water after every sheet. Watch your screen for "plugs". Attack plugs with water pressure from your sink spray, or even from a garden hose. Apply a stiff brush as the water is running. A pin might help dislodge the fibers. As always, prevention (regular between-sheet rinsing) is the best cure.


Back to Top


 

6. I’ve seen Arnold iron right on the sheet to dry it in his videos. Doesn’t that hurt the paper?

Subtly, yes. But sometimes we are willing to accept the subtle harm to have our paper immediately. This occurs on huge paper machines that make paper at a mile a minute. More visible harm occurs if you iron in a matter that chars surface fibers, such as leaving the iron too long in one spot, or making thick paper that requires too much heat to dry. Turn paper over during heat drying. If it bothers you to iron right on the sheet, you can use a thin cloth over the fibers before applying the iron. See also: Three Ways To Dry Paper in the Information section on this site.


Back to Top


 

7. Can’t I make paper just using things around my house?

Stated most simply, making paper requires three things — water, fiber, and a sieve. Any way you can get water containing fibers to run through a sieve, will produce some kind of a mat of wet fibers. Dried, the mat is paper. To make useable paper, you need a fourth item that will let you control how the first three interact. This fourth thing can be some type of hand mold (deckle over a screen), or a $500 million paper machine. The simplest "home" hand mold I know of is two tin cans and a window screen (available in most homes). Very good, useable paper can be made. It’s such a simple and fascinating process, I’ve written a book about it — Tin Can Papermaking: Recycle for Earth & Art. It's the fastest, shortest, least expensive route to paper that I know. The book is out of print, but copies are still available on the internet.


Back to Top


 

8. How much paper do I put into the blender?

It depends on how thick you want you paper to be. The more you put in, the thicker the resulting paper. The less, the thinner. For pour molds, here’s a reference point: (a) Pick some paper to recycle. (b) Take enough of the paper to cover the top of your hand mold. (c) Recycle it in a blender and make a sheet of paper. You handmade paper will be close to exactly as thick as the paper you recycled. For paper twice as thick, recycle twice as much paper. For paper half as thick, recycle half as much. With this basic reference point, you have total control over the thickness/thinness of your paper. For dip molds, thickness depends on the ratio of water to pulp and is controlled in the vat. For thinner paper, add water to the pulp in the vat. For thicker paper, add drained pulp. Precise thickness control with dip molds is probably more difficult.


Back to Top


 

9. I saved a whole garbage bag full of lint from my dryer. Can I make paper out of it?

Ah — our favorite question not to answer! Paper is cellulose fibers naturally bonded. If your lint is synthetic, rather than natural fibers, they won’t bond. They might hang together by friction due to their length. Even if enough of the lint fibers are natural, wet lint is horribly hard to disperse in the vat or handmold before forming the new sheet. So unless you can decoratively incorporate lumps of wet lint into your paper, or patiently pull dry lint apart and drop it into natural fiber pulp, it seems to me making paper out of lint is "iffy". But if you can patiently get lint reasonably dispersed, enough of it in a sheet does impart a definite characteristic to a sheet. (This answer is a good example of how to answer a question that is your favorite question not to answer.)


Back to Top


 

10. What should I do with left over pulp?

It's a good idea to drain the pulp. Then you have several options. If you're going to use it soon, you can put it in a tightly covered container in your refrigerator. If it's going to be more than a few days, put the container in your freezer. If it's going to be a long time, pack it into a shallow container and let the whole works dry out. Your dry pulp block can be easily returned to its former state by adding water and re-blending it. Arnold would often pack his leftover pulp into a mold and have a paper casting.

Whatever you do, don’t pour water with fibers in it down your sink drain. This can impair, or even stop, sink drainage. Drained pulp water can be safely flushed down the toilet, or better yet, added to the garden. Leftover fibers will act as mulch.


Back to Top


 

11. When should I add flowers, metallics or similar items to the pulp?

There are two ways to add ’inclusions’ - any of the above - to the pulp. 1) In the blender or 2) in the hand mold (pour method) or vat (dip method). The blender will modify whatever is being added (much or little depending on how long it is in the blender). Addition in the hand mold or vat will leave items whole. So it depends on how you want the added items to appear in the final sheet. To add it whole to the surface of a sheet, see "Surface Embedment", p. 86, in Arnold Grummer’s Complete Guide to Easy Paper making or in Vol 1 of Arnold Grummer’s Fun With the Papermill Instructional Video Series.


Back to Top


 

12. Which paper making kit is right for me?

To choose the right paper making kit for you, it’s helpful to know about the two ways to make paper: the ‘pour’ and the ‘dip’ method. If you’re not familiar with these two methods, please see ‘Two Ways To Make Paper’. This may answer a lot of questions for you.

Below are listed ‘user groups’, and the kit they generally use. If you still have questions after reading this, feel free to use the ‘Contact Us’ page for individual help.

Scrapbookers & Stampers:
Prefer the Papermill Kits (#301 or #501). Easy to use with everything needed to form, press and dry paper. This is the set most often featured on cable network programs.

Artists:
Prefer the 'dip' handmolds (#53,#73). Making paper by 'dipping' the handmold into a vat of pulp is considered a traditional method of papermaking.

Paper Making For Family Fun:
The 'Let's Make Paper!' kit offers papermaking using household items and kit supplies. Directions include fun project ideas including 'cookie cutter' paper shapes and 'seed paper' to plant and grow into flowers. 

The Right Kit To Give As A Gift To:
A family with young children: #103
A creative child (boy or girl) age 8-14: #53 or #301
A creative young person (boy or girl) age 15-18: #53 , #301 or #501
A creative adult: #53, #73, #301, #501
An adult who enjoys stamping: #301 or #501
An adult who enjoys scrap booking: #501
A gardener: #53 or #301 (and a #395 Flower Press!)
A nature person: #53, #73 or #301
Your local school: See listings below

Classroom Teachers: Preschool - 3rd Grade
Let’s Make Paper! Classroom Kit - makes round sheets; clear cylinder lets students see paper form on the screen. Excellent for recycling, ecology and outdoor education units.*

Classroom Teachers*: 4th Grade - 8th Grade
Papermill Station For Groups (pour method) or Know How Classroom Set (dip method). Either set has plenty of supplies for the whole classroom and make 5.5 x 8.5 inch paper for art, language arts, social studies, science or consumer science classes.*

Classroom Teachers*: 9th-12th Grade
Art classroom teachers may choose from the a la carte dip handmolds, either of the kits mentioned above, or the Papermill PRO Station for Groups (#502) to make 8.5 x 11 inch paper and envelopes.

General classroom teachers prefer the Papermill Station for Groups (#304) or Papermill PRO Station for Groups (#502) for ease of use.*

Waste Management, Keep America Beautiful®, Nature Centers and Community Groups   Prefer (#104) Let’s Make Paper! Classroom Kit (for young children thru 3rd grade) or the Papermill Station For Groups (#304) for older school age groups and community events.

Paper Industry Outreach Education Programs: Mill Open House Programs
Same as above.

Scouts, Home Schoolers, 4-H Clubs
4 years old thru 3rd Grade: any Tin Can Paper making Kit (#103,  #104).  4th Grade on up: #53 or #301 kit; whatever fits the budget. For groups of 20 or more: See Classroom suggestions above.


*For teacher generated lesson plans incorporating paper making, see Lesson Plans.


Back to Top