While the first day of Spring was back in March, I knew I'd have to wait at least another 1 1/2-2 months for warmer temps to arrive in the mountains of Southern Colorado. To help shake off the winter blues, I decided I needed to make some hand-made wildflower seed embedded paper! This paper could be planted when the weather became warmer and would soon sprout a variety of wildflowers!
I also thought these would make great gifts to give to attendees of an upcoming card class as well as for Mother's Day. I really wanted to to give a gift that would celebrate the arrival of spring and would later add a splash of color to a summer garden. And while I was at it, why not use my Big Shot and a couple of select dies to cut the hand-made paper into spring-themed shapes?
And that is exactly what I set out to do!
I dug out the hand-made paper making kit my husband had given me several years ago. It had made the move from New Mexico to Colorado with us. Even though it had been packed away for over a year, I knew exactly where it was!
This pour and mold hand-made paper making kit comes with full instructions, plus the mold and screens needed to make paper.
But, if you don't have a paper-making kit, check here for paper-making instructions using everyday, household items
You will need:
sink, shallow pan or tub filled with water Note: You may have some residual pulp in the sink or tub of water. In quantity, pulp can cause drainage problems. To avoid any problems, dispose of the water by flushing it down the toilet rather than pouring it down or letting it drain in the sink.
scraps of paper. If you have a paper shredder, shred the paper first. If not, tear it into small pieces.
I have learned:
1. The amount of paper you use will affect the thickness of the new hand-made sheet. The more recycled paper you use, the thicker your new sheet will be.
2. The quality of paper you you will determine the qualities of the new hand-made sheet. Choose wastepaper of stationery thickness and quality, like the offers you would get from credit card companies in the mail. If you recycle thick paper, you will get a thick sheet. If you recycle thin paper, you will get a thin sheet. In any case, this is a great way to recycle all that junk mail!
3. The amount of blender time will affect the surface appearance of the new hand-made sheet. A short blender time (15 seconds or less) will result in a mottled surface. In some cases, pieces of the recycled wastepaper may be readable. To get a more uniform surface appearance, run the blender until all pieces and chunks of paper have disappeared.
tray or old baking sheet with sides
wire whisk for stirring
couch sheets (pronounced "kooch") This is usually a heavy-weight paper that is used to pull the moisture out of the new paper. Kitchen towels will do. Don't use newspaper. You will need at least 2 couch sheets, maybe more.
iron, ironing board and a cloth to cover and protect the paper and your iron
screen or other raised drying rack
First you need to gather up some paper to make your paper pulp. I recycled the paper in my paper shredding basket. I tend to shred everything so I always have a supply.
To make the pulp:
1. Shred or tear the paper into smaller pieces. Use any color of paper you would like. If you use white paper with printing on it, your pulp will start out as an ugly grayish color, but will dry off white. Adding scraps of colored paper will change the color, usually giving the paper a yellow or yellow-greenish tint.
2. Put shredded paper in a blender along with enough water to fill to the 5 cup mark of your blender. Let the paper soak in the water for 5-10 minutes.
3. Blend for approx 30 seconds.
4. Add wildflower seed to pulp. Do not use the blender to mix the seed. Mix into the pulp with a wire whisk. I used 1 TBS of wildflower seed for 5 cups of pulp.
You will then make the paper following the instructions in your paper-making kit or the instructions given in the link above. My paper-making kit comes with a mold and screen. I submerge the mold into a sink full of water, then pour in the pulp. Lift the mold and the water drains leaving a new sheet of paper the size of the mold. If needed, I use my fingers to move the pulp around to bring it to the corners, even out the thickness and generally shape it while it is still in the mold.
Remove the mold and carefully lay the wet paper on an old cookie sheet. Remove the excess water by sponging the wet paper, wringing out the sponge as you go.
When most of the water has been sponged out, lay a dry couch sheet over the new sheet. With a rolling pin, roll over the paper to help remove more water and even out the thickness of the paper. As the couch sheet becomes wet, replace it with a new dry one.
Once the majority of the water has been removed, carefully lay the paper on an ironing board. Cover it with an piece of cloth (I use an old pillow case) to protect the iron as well as to keep the paper from scorching. With a dry, hot iron, iron one side of the paper. Uncover it and carefully flip to the other side, cover it again and continue ironing. Iron each side of the paper until it is mostly dry.
Lay the paper on a raised screen allowing air to circulate all around it which will speed up the drying process. I use the screen that comes with the paper-making kit, but you could also use something like a cookie cooling rack. To prevent curling, place something heavy, such as a stack of books, on the paper while drying.
Place the screen and paper in a warm spot in the house or outside (if the wind isn't blowing!). I placed my paper in the warmest spot in our house, on top of our pellet stove and let it dry overnight. I would flip the paper every now and again.
Drying can take 24 hours depending on conditions.
Once dry, you are ready to create! The edges of the paper probably won't be perfect, but that's ok. You are going to cut the paper down anyway.
I cut the paper down to the sizes of my dies (Flower Folds and Beautiful Butterfly) and ran them through my Big Shot.
I then created the planting instructions using My Digital Studio software. I created a sheet of 4 instructions, printed them out, cut them down and layered them onto various colors of card stock. I attached the pieces of wildflower embedded paper onto the front using SNAIL adhesive. I then put the card in a cello bag and printed out a greeting on address labels to attach to the front.
Now what's so cool about this project is that you can use all the little bits of paper you have left over from your crafting to create your pulp. You know how when you use the Blossom Bouquet and Doilie Triple Layer punches, you are left with all these little, itty, bitty pieces of paper?
Well, add them to your pulp for added bits of color! See the pieces of Melon Mambo, Daffodil Delight and Tempting Turquoise it this paper?
When I was finished cutting out the die shapes, I was left with a whole bag of the negative images. A whole bag of seed embedded pieces of paper that I could plant in my own garden!
So on a sunny day not too long ago, I spent the afternoon planting my little pieces of hand-made paper in my flower gardens. And look what is sprouting!
Give it a try, and be sure to let me know how it turned out for you!
Thanks for looking. Anne