Friday, October 29, 2010

Paper-making and Autumn Leaves

I recently found Mateo playing in the sand pit next to our bus pretending to make paper with an experimental mix of sand and water. This lead to a discussion about paper, its history, different things in our lives made of paper, and the natural ability of wasps to make their nests from paper. Later that week we created our own paper making project. This is our recipe"ish":
Making the sieve and mold:
My original plan was to make a very simple sieve with pantyhose and a wire hanger, however, I could not find what I needed at hand so in keeping with my vow to keep this project purchase free I ended up finding and using scrap wood, screen, wood screws and staple gun.
To make things easy we cut the four sides of our frame the same size.
Mateo enjoyed measuring to make sure that all pieces were exactly the same.
We then screwed the pieces together and stapled the screen mesh to the frame.
Mateo hammered the staples that poked up for a stronger hold then carefully trimmed the excess mesh from the sides.
The slurry or pulp:
Our ingredients consisted of newspaper, lint, sawdust, leaves and flowers and we later threw in some glitter. Next time I would like experiment with more color variations and sculptural forms, but for our first attempt we kept it simple.
First we shredded the newspaper and mixed the rest of the ingredients together in water.
Then we blended everything together to make the pulp. I recommend small batches at a time.
The pulp should have the consistency of porridge.
Now we are ready to make paper!
Any additional flowers or decorative elements should be added to your sieve first.
Then add the slurry over top. Our frame happened to fit perfectly into our cooler, making it easy to press the water into the underneath container.
We found it easiest to press the water out with our hands.
Once the majority of the water is pressed out, carefully flip the formed paper on to your drying area. We used a combination of felt and newspaper to absorb the excess water in our paper. We covered and then pressed and rolled the paper with rolling pin.
The result will start to resemble thick paper card.
Hang to dry and move on to the next batch.
We dried overnight.
The next day we found leaves we liked around the neighborhood and use them as templates to cut out from our new recycled paper.
Added some watercolor and..
...they ended up gorgeous. We hung them up inside our home. They remind us of the autumn leaves we don't get a chance to see here in Miami. But we'll soon get a chance to admire the changing colors of autumn next week when we take the bus on its first trial run up to North Carolina. Wahoo!

Follow our main website with updates on our bus project at


Amanda said...

I've always wanted to do this!!! Love your results!

Fiona said...

Your leaves are gorgeous, and I too have also wanted to make paper with the girls.
What a wonderful tutorial.

earthboysblog said...

It's a shame I didn't get to meet you whilst I was in Miami last week after traveling our airstream for two months. I love your little autumn leaves. Do you know Ariella in Miami?

Transit Antenna Home said...

Thats to bad! It would have been fun to hang out. Yes I'm good friends with Ariella!