• Jamie, from Mademyown

Recycled paper

Got the idea to try making paper from my Japanese friend - she was telling me about how how she used to make paper at home when she was young.

At the same time, I was working on a Craft for Conversations project, and came across craft seed paper. The original intention was to make them as part of the packaging, so people would be incentivised to pop them into soil after use. I didn’t end up doing that, because:

1) I had some personal reflections from the first batch on the efficiency of it;

2) I thought it would be a challenge to incorporate appropriate plant seeds into the piece and without killing them


Nevertheless, I made two sheets, based on two reference sources (one from hgtv, another from Make Something). Here’s a peek into the process:


Tore up pieces of scrap paper and blended it with water

Popped in some fallen bougainvillea leaves in to get some additional texture (plus that was a key material used in my Craft for Conversations project on Sustainability / Waste)

Kinda looks like porridge after it get blended :D

Pour the blended pulp into a mould and deckle

Transfer the shaped piece onto a towel to press dry

I pressed it dry on multiple parts of the towel and left it to sit for a while - after it gets dry enough I can peel it off the towel and hold it

To make sure it's really dry, I press it (with a layer of towel in between) with an iron

Occasional peek to check that it's still in one piece and not burnt ha

This is what it looks like after it dries completely


I did this twice, and experimented with a different composition:

  • The first piece use 1 sheet of A4 scrap paper (from mail) and 1 page from an old copy of the Economist magazine

  • I wanted to make the second piece thicker, so I effectively used a bit more than 2 times the amount of scrap paper in the pulp compared to the first. It also had more papers from the magazine, which was a slightly different material and had more ink printed on it. Didn't add plant bits into this one


Here's the final product of the two pieces:

The on on top is the thicker second sheet, which has a slightly greyer tinge to it (likely due to more ink in the scrap paper used, and no botanical bits to "brighten" the look)


I cut the first piece up, and incorporated them as surprise inserts along with the handcrafted jewellery pieces inspired by the topic of Sustainability / Waste at Craft for Conversations.



Some reflections on this


My original intention was to satisfy my curiosity, as with all the other projects I've done - to figure out how to make something.


Later on, I thought the idea of including recycled paper into my other project was appealing, since it was on the topic of Sustainability / Waste anyway.


However, as I went through the process, I realized I was using quite a bit of resources to create the final output - electricity to blend the pulp, lots of water to create the pulp mixture, electricity to dry the paper when I press it. That made me reflect on the efficiency of what I was doing. If my intention is to reduce environmental impact, then perhaps making my own recycled paper may not quite achieve that - it is likely more efficient when done at scale. And it is likely better off for the environment buying industrial-made recycled paper than making my own.


Hence, I decided that if my intention is to achieve environmental impact, I am better off sending paper to be recycled industrially.


It's okay if I want to explore and learn the process of making paper as a craft / hobby, and to create something unique - nothing wrong with that, and I can try my best not to generate unnecessary waste. In fact, exploring the process helped me understand the resources needed to create paper, and made me more mindful in using it and wanting to take more care to ensure it gets recycled. And in terms of hobbies, paper-making likely creates less environmental impact compared to some other hobbies, such as driving around in a car, or travelling. (I love travel, too! Just an illustration of thinking about the choices of an activity).


It's just important to recognize the intentions of doing something (in this case - is it for a hobby to enjoy the craft and create something special of my own, or to try to reduce environmental impact), and whether the approach we choose is the best way that we can take to achieve it.

Duration: <1 hour (depends on your drying method!)


Price: Bought the mould and deckle from Shopee for SGD 10 (looks like price has dropped quite a bit since then)


Level of fun: 3/5


I actually attended a short workshop to make paper in Taipei back in 2013 when visiting a paper museum, and this home DIY experience was fairly similar in concept, except that I made do with home tools. It's a fun activity to try at home that involves various simple to use tools, and seeing something change states (solid paper torn into bits, blended into pulp, reformed into a complete sheet again) to create the final product


Level of difficulty: 2/5


The process was generally straightforward enough, the main challenging bit was to get the pulp evenly distributed across the deckle and mould, so that the paper is for even thickness. I found that the biggest impact was when pouring the blended pulp onto the frame - once it's on the frame (and most of the water has flowed through the netting, leaving just the wet pulp), it's quite difficult to "move" it. At the paper museum, there was a large vat of wet pulp in water to swish the frame around to position the pulp as desired, but at home, I only had a little tub to "catch the water below the frame. I believe in the industrial paper making process, they use machine to spray the pulp evenly. That was the main difficult part, if you want to land on sheet that's of even thickness


#2020 #DIY #DIYpaper #RecycledPaper #BotanicalPaper #Singapore #MakeSomething #HGTV

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