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How to Make Paper - An Illustrated Step-by-Step Guide

Design Your Own Paper & Recycle In A Fun Way

The method to make paper was developed in 105 A.D. by Ts'ai Lun. This paper was made from tree bark, rags, and hemp. In 610, the art of paper making reached Japan. In fact, you can still find some of the world's most beautiful paper coming out of Japan.

By 751, Chinese prisoners of war were in the area that is now Afghanistan. The Chinese prisoners began making paper--thus, spreading the methods to Baghdad Egypt, Damascus, and Morocco.

Paper making reached Europe in 1200. The 19th century brought about the industrialization of papermaking.

Today, most paper is machine made. There are still many people in regions throughout the world who keep up the tradition of making paper by hand.

Now, you can make paper at home.

Gathering All Your Supplies

how-to-make-paper---an-illustrated-step-by-step-guide

How to Make a Deckle

  • Deckle for Papermaking
    A simple method for making your own deckle at home with supplies you can find at any craft or hardware store.
  • Making a Deckle Box
    Another easy way to make a deckle, but in a different format. It also talks about making different sized deckle boxes.

Paper Making with Lonnie and Jacqueline

Making Paper with 4th Graders

Quick Papermaking Demo

What You Will Need:

  • Blender
  • Rolling Pin
  • Flat workspace
  • Kitchen sink with stopper, or large plastic tub
  • Kitchen Towels, or rags
  • Paper Blotters
  • Deckle (make your own, or buy one at a craft store)
  • nylon screen
  • sponge
  • leaves, moss, glitter, or other decorations
  • Paper - you can use old envelopes, papers, newspapers, stamps (but avoid glossy paper, like magazines)
  • Microwave or hair dryer, if desired

Step 1

Assemble your deckle by fitting the larger frame over the screened side of the smaller frame.

Step 2

Fill your sink or tub with warm water (so it feels nice to touch--not too hot, not too cold). The water should be about three inches deep.

Step 3

Now, it is time to make your paper pulp. Tear your paper into squares (about 1"). Combine water with the paper in your blender. It should be about 2:1, two parts water to 1 part paper. Blend until the pulp is soft. You might see some chunks, but not any big ones.

Step 4

You are ready to pour your pulp. Place your deckle and screen in the sink (or tub), so the water is about 1" below the top of the deckle. Hold the deckle down under the water with one hand. With your free hand, pour the pulp into the deckle. Swish the deckle around.

Step 5

Lift the deckle straight up, draining the visible water. You want to keep the pulp even, so avoid tilting the deckle as you lift it. Once the visible water has drained, tilt the deckle. Wait for the water to stop draining.

Step 6

Place the deckle on a flat surface. Remove the top half of the deckle. There will be a layer of wet fiber (pulp) on the screen.

Step 7

Now, you need to sponge the pulp. Place your loose screen over the pulp. Use a moist sponge to evenly press over the pulp. Squeeze the sponge out into the sink, and repeat. You want to draw as much moisture out of the pulp as you can. Fold a kitchen towel, or rag, in half, then turn the pulp (with screen and deckle) over onto the towel. Use the sponge on the deckle screen to remove excess water. Squeeze out sponge and repeat.

Remove the deckle, leaving the pulp pressed against the loose screen. You can peel the pulp off of the deckle if it sticks.

Step 8

It is time to couch (pronounced koo-ch) the paper pulp. Flip the screen and pulp onto a piece of blotter paper. The pulp should be sandwiched between the screen and the blotter. Use a rolling pin to roll over the pulp sandwich. The pulp will transfer from the screen to the blotter. This method is called couching (kooching). Couch the paper again, onto a dry blotter. If your paper pulp is still really wet, couch again.

Step 9

Carefully lift one corner of the pulp sheet, slowly peeling it off of the blotter. It is time to let the paper dry. You can let it air dry (which takes 1-3 days depending on humidity), heat it in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes, or use a blow dryer on the paper.

Don't be surprised if your paper curls. To flatten it, stick it under some heavy books overnight.

You have just made one piece of paper!

The Step-by-Step Photos

The Step-by-Step Photos on the right show how I went through the 9 steps to make paper. I wanted to make red paper, so I found some red scrap paper. I combined it with some white paper that had drawings on it. For texture, I added some dried moss. I also tossed in some cinnamon to give the paper a nice scent. I blended all of these together with some water.

Ready to Make More Paper?

The blotters need to be dry before you make more paper. Either have enough dry blotters on hand, or dry them in the microwave first. Instead of using blotters, you can also use felt pieces or rags.

If your screens start to stretch, simply use a blow dryer on them. This will help tighten them back up.

Embellish Your Paper

You can create different textures and designs by adding anything to the pulp that you can put into your blender - think spices (make it smell good too), essential oils, petals, potpourri, colored paper, food coloring, glitter, leaves, tea, and moss.

You can also add the embellishments to the pulp after you complete Step 4 from above. Simply place or sprinkle the items on the pulp, gently embedding them into the pulp. When you move on to Step 5, pulling the deckle out, the items will be stuck to the surface of the paper.

You can embed a picture (paper copy, not glossy) into your paper with this same process.

The Papermaking Videos

On the right, you will find three videos showing how to make paper. These videos are helpful to watch because they give you a general idea of the papermaking process.

Paper Making with Lonnie and Jacqueline: The process used to make paper in this video is most similar to the method I have described here. This video will show you how easy it is to make paper, plus it shows a few small differences in style between how paper is made in the video and the method provided here.

Making Paper with 4th Graders: This video shows you how easy it is to get children involved in papermaking projects. As well, it offers more ideas for paper decorating embellishments. The method shown here differs from mine, but allows you a look at another way of making paper.

Quick Papermaking Demo:This is a quick, simple demo showing how easy it is to make paper once all of your supplies are set up.

  • How to Make Home Made Paper You Can Plant
    The Thrifty Fun website provides a great recipe for making paper that can be planted. This recycled paper can be implanted into your garden, and used as compost. The site also includes a forum for comments and ideas.
  • Paper Online
    Paperonline is an educational resource to learn about the history of paper around the world. The site offers a timeline, so it is easy to follow the progress of paper throughout the years.
  • Reuse/Recyle: Homemade Paper
    Here is an alternative method to making paper. The site also offers a quick and simple process for making your own deckle out of an old picture frame and window screen.
  • How To Make Paper - Homemade Papermaking
    Pioneer Thinking provides a collection of crafting how-to’s, including a simple recipe to make paper at home. The site offers a list of possible materials that can be recycled into handmade paper.
  • China's Ancient Papermaking Tradition Preserved
    Learn more about the ancient tradition of papermaking in China. This site also shows you how the traditions are still preserved in China today, while allowing you to explore other arts from the country.
  • Why Recycle Paper?
    Learn more about the recycling process from Green Practices. This site talks about paper recycling, as well as recycling plastic, glass, and metals. The site also offers more resources, like facts and statistics related to recycling.

What’s Next?

After you get the hang of making your own paper, start experimenting. See how thick or thin you can make your pieces. Play with the colors and embellishments. If you use different sized deckles, you can make different sized pieces of paper.

You can use your paper to write letters, make cards, or create wall decorations. You could even use the paper to make your own book. You can straighten the edges of your homemade paper by cutting them. However, a wavy edge is the true mark of handmade paper.

Another fun idea when making your paper, is to adding different kinds of fibers to your paper. For example, you can add bits of yarn or string to the pulp.

While making your paper, ponder these strange facts: Paper began to be used as toilet paper in the 2nd Century!

Some Quick Tips:

To prevent ink from running while writing on your handmade paper, simply add some liquid starch to the pulp mixture.

Another method to both drying and flattening your paper is to use an iron.

  • Making Paper from the Garden
    This article, by Sharon Lovejoy, shares how to make flower paper using plant fibers from the garden. She provides an easy recipe with room for experimentation.
  • Learn To Make Homemade Paper
    This is a kid-friendly tutorial on making paper at home. It includes a step-by-step recipe, as well as historical information about papermaking.

Papermaking Supplies on Amazon

Comments

Cefeeaselry on November 16, 2013:

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Cefeeaselry

Toy Tasting from Mumbai on June 06, 2013:

Stacie, this is such an awesome hub! I would have never thought of making my own paper for project work. I think I am going to give it a try. Sounds really interesting.

meee on April 25, 2013:

i am doing a research project and this site is helpful but can anyone help me out a bit more? thanks every1 byee

Das on February 28, 2013:

I am an artist from bangladesh . Interested Hand made paper making .

creativespirit63 from Omaha, Nebraska on September 14, 2012:

Nice job! I love making paper. Thank you!

geraldhakks on September 10, 2012:

Making paper at home is something that my kids would love to learn. Thanks for this guide.

lexi on May 29, 2012:

I cant wait to try this, looks SO awesome!!! Thanks!

fuk3r on May 21, 2012:

ur mom is a b1tch

ur mom on May 21, 2012:

p00p

shane brett on May 09, 2012:

this was cool to know how to make it

shane brett on May 09, 2012:

this was cool to know how to make it

flaberlabberdingdong on May 09, 2012:

this was pointless cld jus go 2 the shop

yutray on April 24, 2012:

this is what i Looking for...thank you for sharing

Reve from Dhaka on March 22, 2012:

Whole idea of making paper inside home is terrific. Thanks for your useful hub :)

emmalina on March 17, 2012:

your great

fgjh on March 15, 2012:

pooop is awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! B-----

tyty on February 29, 2012:

great info

Wilson Terblanche on December 12, 2011:

I am retired and is looking for a "not too much effort" hobby. I am quite a handyman so I'm going to try this very usefull tips.

Regards

stacey symon on October 11, 2011:

what's going on aaaaaa im skared lol not realy i dont know eny think about it bu8t great pictures who ever rote this ps.IM TEN

ThePelton from Martinsburg, WV USA on September 09, 2011:

One way I found of driving the water out of the wet paper and felt stack was to stand on it after putting a piece of heavy plywood over it. I weigh somewhere between 180 and 200 pounds, so it drives a bit of water out when I do that.

Painter Penfield talked of using dryer lint. That's OK as long as it's not synthetic. Nylon, Rayon and the like will not mat together like natural fibers.

jason c arguelles on September 08, 2011:

I love deckle!!!!!!!

niki on August 25, 2011:

it's super duper duper excellent hub it's awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!

chuck gamana on August 25, 2011:

i like this!!!!!!!!!!

pls teach me.

hongkong on August 24, 2011:

it is so bad

marjorie on August 23, 2011:

thanks,,this is a good help for me ,for my project...hehehhehe

fri on August 05, 2011:

i hate it. what's a deckle?

Emma from Houston TX on March 19, 2011:

Wow.Good,Great,Wonderful and interesting hub.Quite informative and educating article which i really enjoyed coming across.thanks for writing this cool hub.

steel plate on February 17, 2011:

so cool!!really great detailed directions, maybe i'll try it after all

Painter Penfield from Tampa Bay area Florida on January 31, 2011:

I made the paper out of junk mail and dryer lint for my boyfriend's birthday card. Woot! I also put a link to your site on my currently under revision hub on art from recycled materials. I will probably be able to re-post that tomorrow or the next day. I definitely put a link to your site on my blog though. People are watching you ;)

Painter Penfield from Tampa Bay area Florida on January 31, 2011:

Fantastic hub! Now I have another thing I can do with my fast accumulating dryer lint! I wish I had found your hub when I was setting up the link to my Green Art from Recycled materials hub. Those hub link suggestions do not always pick the best links...

Thanks for the really informative How-To on paper making.

G Boy on January 24, 2011:

It actually WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

reagan on January 04, 2011:

sup people who posted comment bye

zum on December 29, 2010:

WELL DONE GUYS

Jason dos antos on November 09, 2010:

Hey goog pape making process

big man on November 01, 2010:

hey this really cool i might use this in my project on how to turn trees into paper.

Jeff_McRitchie on October 19, 2010:

This is an excellent article. It's extremely detailed and a big help to anyone who wants to make his/her own paper.

secure shredding fort lauderdale on August 07, 2010:

I will do that and after i;ll take it to a shredding machine to see what happens. hi hi

53061986 from puerto rico on July 27, 2010:

very nice Hub, i don't know why but it made me hungry

alex on June 03, 2010:

"Either have enough dry blotters on hand, or dry them in the microwave first."

i put in the microwave and it cot fire :(

scaffolding tower from United Kingdom on February 10, 2010:

This looks like a great DIY project that can involve the kids! Glad I stumbled upon your hub.

art babe on February 05, 2010:

This is sooooo coooool!!!

shinujohn2008 on January 08, 2010:

Making and Recycling Paper at home is really useful

AnythingArtzy from OHIO on December 07, 2009:

Great article.

I can now mark this off my list as a future hub.

I also make paper and couldn't have said it any better myself. I will add though that if you do this a lot and want a "natural" look colored paper, most newspapers will sell you their endrolls of unprinted psper cheap. Looks great when adding all your spices and leaves etc.

Another tip for vibrant paper is tissue paper. You use a bit more to get the right thickness to your paper but it's worth it. I also use it to add color to other papers. the color runs so it blends well.

la orli on December 03, 2009:

it failed and didn't work i dont ike it

Sage Knowles on November 23, 2009:

really great detailed directions, maybe i'll try it after all

roswebb from Ireland on November 19, 2009:

wow... I will try this.

DragonOZ on November 18, 2009:

Great guide. They make great birthday cards - people are always impressed :)

Unique Kids Stuff on November 08, 2009:

I never thought of making paper as something you could do at home.

tonyhubb on November 07, 2009:

Very helpful tips! Thanks for sharing !

Jane@CM on October 28, 2009:

I have always wanted to learn how to do this. Great informative hub! Thanks!

spencerprint on October 26, 2009:

Hi,

Great stuff. As a UK Print Broker I am always promoting "Environmnetally Friendly Printing", so this is real cool. In the UK a company is running an experimental paper mill, using straw to make paper,. They hope to go commercial soon. Do they have anything similar in the UK? Please feel free to check out the paper mill at http://www.bioregional.com

elijah on September 24, 2009:

i didn't like it much

Sexy jonty from India on August 07, 2009:

Thanks for providing such useful information, and explaining it so clearly.

kateri on August 04, 2009:

Can I add something to the mix to make the paper pliable?

Thanks

Kat

nettie on June 09, 2009:

do youknow how io

Guest on May 24, 2009:

Interesting... Did you know you can make paper out of milk cartons?

=) Guest(=

jenro on May 17, 2009:

you did amazing job

Dink96 from Phoenix, AZ on May 12, 2009:

I like to make handmade cards but making the paper may be too much. It could be a fun project, so I might give it a go and see how it turns out. Very informative blog. Thank you!

Stacie Naczelnik (author) from Seattle on May 05, 2009:

There are pictures of the deckle at the top. It is the wooden frame I use to make paper.

cashmere from India on May 04, 2009:

What is a deckle?

The rest of the post will not make sense till I know that.

bananajana on March 31, 2009:

Wonderful and very informative. Thanks so much. I like the cinnamon idea, too.

Paper masta on January 09, 2009:

Now gonna make a paper factory

Ria Bridges from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada on January 04, 2009:

Awesome Hub! I've been wanting to try paper-making for a while now, and I think this might have just given me enough inspiration and advice to get started! Thank you!

t08c15 on December 25, 2008:

That was very clear and informative.

I was curious about paper making.

The variety of references is great.

lindsay. on December 13, 2008:

ah, this has helped with my project so much.

Christoph Reilly from St. Louis on December 06, 2008:

An extremely informative and detailed hub. Excellent work!

Bellesfleurs from West Georgia, USA on November 17, 2008:

Well done! I've always wanted to try this -- now I have no excuse, right? (Well, except for not having a deckle...yet.)

Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on October 15, 2008:

Brought back memories of making paper at school. I still have it with the entrie classes signature!!!

ProCW from South Carolina on July 24, 2008:

That's very interesting Stacie! I'm into recycling, but never thought of recycling paper like that. Great hub and resourceful recycling!

ProCW

John on June 11, 2008:

Hi Thanks for sharing

First Eagle on June 09, 2008:

Very useful tips! Thanks for sharing !

jshaiju from Chennai, India on June 02, 2008:

Excellent hub. Good work. Step by step instructions. Expecting more hubs like this.

ngureco on May 17, 2008:

An easy step by step guide with good photos.

Hope Wilbanks from Louisiana on May 03, 2008:

Very cool! I've always wanted to make paper but haven't been brave enough to try it yet. Your instructions are very easy though so maybe I'll give it a try. :)

ialwayshaveprojectsatschoolonpaper on April 28, 2008:

this is great for my school projects!

(it might even be useful for 5th grade next year)

thanks!

Frank from Montana on April 19, 2008:

I'll make aflower for my spouse

Techie on April 09, 2008:

Amazing graphical instructions.

Jared L from Singapore on April 07, 2008:

nice instructions...but this takes to much patience out of me :)

Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on March 29, 2008:

This is a great hub, I did it years ago but forgot how. Now I can do it again

Hubalicious from La Jolla on March 26, 2008:

THis really does sound like a lot of fun.... But I am not sure I could sacrifice the margarita maker (blender) for the project.

clearwaterhomes on March 26, 2008:

As we all work to be more eco friendly this is a fun and functional way to make a difference.

cyndeehaydon from Clearwater Florida on March 25, 2008:

What fun - as a homeschool mom of 2 boys this looks like a fun and educational process - excellent Hub!!

johnngd from Sydney on February 24, 2008:

Top hub - what a great way of recyceling old scraps of paper - I heard you can use cotton to make paper - you get an excellent effect apparently - has anyone tried this?

singpec476 from Not Too Far Away on February 21, 2008:

This si another one of those things you never actually think about until someone mentions it, making paper would have never crossed my mind great hub.

vreccc from Concord, NH on February 20, 2008:

Stacie,

Great hub! I remember making paper in elementary school. I don't know if they still do it these days. I work for a school district. I'll be sharing this one with the elementary school teachers. Ahh, what the heck... the high school teachers, too.

Jonathan

Wayne Tully from Hull City United Kingdom on January 20, 2008:

This brings back memories of me at art college, at first dreading all these creative making things, but I loved it! making your own paper is not only economical it is friendly for the environment and fun to do too.

I'll be all set for making paper next weekend so I'll be using your hub as a guide as it's been awhile! Cheers!

Ricardo Nunes from Portugal on December 20, 2007:

Nice hub! Great idea to save our trees ;)

Thumb up!

Compu-Smart from London UK on December 17, 2007:

What a cool idea and great hub! i will get have to get my niece who is a very keen drawer, and very environmentally friendly can now create her works of art on her very own home made paper!!

Thanks:)

JR from California on December 16, 2007:

Great hub!! I'm excited to look at some of the others you have made! This was very well put together!

Whitney from Georgia on December 14, 2007:

Great step by step guide with pictures!

Isabella Snow on December 12, 2007:

Wow! I want to do this!!!!!! You've made feel creative, Stacie!! Look out, Hallmark!!

Rik Rodriguez from Hawaii on December 12, 2007:

Nice Job Stacie

I remember making paper in school.

Its a lot of fun

MrMarmalade from Sydney on December 11, 2007:

Your style is not only good but your information great

Thank you

Merle Ann Johnson from NW in the land of the Free on December 11, 2007:

phew..what else do you have time for??with presentations like this Stacie? This was very good...G-Ma:O) for real

Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on December 11, 2007:

Fantastic -I am getting inspired into new crafts at hubpages!

stubbs from London on December 11, 2007:

wow this is superb, the pictures are great. I'm going to pass this onto my cousin shes really into her own crafts and things she'll love this.

great great hub

Carla Chadwick from Georgia on December 11, 2007:

This is terrific! I'm going to bookmark it for future use. :-)

CTCV on December 11, 2007:

This is truly wonderful! I can give you RATE OF EXCELLENCE...and I commend you for this. You're terrific. Thanks for hubbing.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on December 11, 2007:

Super-duper HUB!

You added everything that anyone could need. We have always enjoyed making our own paper and all of our cards all year long are from our own stock. We make our paper in the summer so that it doesn't take as long to dry.

great HUB

regards Zsuzsy