Nearly everyone has a lot of waste paper lying around. From grocery lists, phone messages, and other scribbled notes to junk mail, the paper just piles up every day. Of course, you could (and should!) recycle this paper by taking it to a paper recycling place or dropping it into a paper recycling bin at work or school. On the other hand, you can use some of that paper to exercise your creativity, have some fun, and save money on purchased Christmas cards, all while saving a tree or two by not buying cards made with new paper.
The process is actually fairly simple in concept. In short, you rip up the paper into small pieces, soak it in water, then re-form it into a new sheet of paper.
To begin, I suggest you use a blender to rip the paper. You can do this part by hand, and maybe you’ll enjoy doing that, but you’ll get better results faster with a blender. In any case, to use the blender, tear the paper into chunks that will easily stuff into a blender and drop them in. Add lots of water. (You can add the water first, if you prefer – it really doesn’t matter.) You should add about twice as much water as you have paper, in terms of volume. Having more water than that won’t hurt, as long as you don’t overflow the blender.
Add in some food coloring in red or green to make it a good holiday card. This is somewhat important, as the ink on the paper will spread around and color the paper unless you’ve washed it all away. Since we’re doing a simple project, it’s easier to drown it out than to remove it. (That said, it wouldn’t hurt to soak your paper for a few minutes in a bowl before transferring it to the blender. That might leach out some of the ink, depending on several factors such as what type of ink is used and the like.)
Optionally, add in cinnamon or some other Christmas-like spice to scent your paper. A scented card is always nice!
Once you have a nice pulp of stuff, it’s time to pour it out. If you have money, buy the proper equipment for the job. The item is called a deckle. If you have woodworking skills, you can make a deckle. Otherwise, you can improvise.
A deckle is essentially a fine-meshed screen held tight with a frame. This makes forming a sheet of paper easy. You pour the pulp onto the deckle, holding the deckle underwater or otherwise keeping conditions very wet, and then gently swish the deckle back and forth until the pulp lays itself flat. Lift the deckle up, holding it straight so the pulp doesn’t flop around. Let the water drain until it stops pouring out. Press the paper with a flat instrument (a sponge works great) to wring out as much water as possible.
Alternatively, you can knead your pulp a bit like dough, and then roll it out with a rolling pin. You will not get as good a result, but you won’t have to find or make a deckle.
Now just let your paper dry. You can let it air dry, which will take several days, or you can speed things up by using a hairdryer. It is possible to use a microwave, too, though you must be very careful not to “overcook” your paper.
Once your sheet of paper is dry, you have your cardstock. If you used a proper deckle from a store, then you should have a nice rectangular sheet already. If your sheet’s shape doesn’t make you happy, take a pair of scissors to it until you like it. You can either fold your sheet in half for a traditional card presentation, or you can use it as a single unfolded sheet with just a front and back.
Now you get to decorate your card. Draw, write words, glue things on, or whatever you want to do. This isn’t a commercial card – you have to do it all yourself.
***Warning: do NOT try to put your handmade paper through your printer!***