The first substance that approached paper as we know it today was papyrus. The ancient Egyptians made papyrus by pounding papyrus reeds into a flat substance that could be written on. Today, paper is typically made from wood pulp, although it may be made from anything ranging from cotton or linen fibres to mulberry bark. Because of its fine texture, birch bark is a good substance for making paper. Birch bark can be harvested from birch trees without killing the tree, and may be purchased from a craft store.
Cut your birch bark into fine particles using a knife and scissors. Tear or shred your scrap paper into tiny pieces. Place the paper and bark into a tub of water to soak for 24 hours. This will help to break down the fibres.
Drain your paper, then measure the paper into a blender along with some water. For every cup of paper you add to your blender, add 2 to 3 cups water. Blend your paper until the mixture has a thick oatmeal-like consistency.
Add dye, plant materials or other decorations to your paper pulp to change the appearance. You can also add dryer lint to improve the strength of the finished paper.
Create a paper mould by stapling window screening to the back of a picture frame. The paper you create will be the side of the interior of the window screen.
Fill the plastic tub with 2 to 6 inches of water. Pour the paper pulp into the tub at a rate of 1 blender full of mould per 2 inches of water. The amount of pulp in the water will help determine the thickness of the paper.
Stir the pulp with a plastic paddle, and then slip the mould into the tub beneath the surface of the water and pulp mixture. Lift the mould, bringing some of the mixture up with it. Allow the mixture to drain out of the screen as you lift.
Pat away the excess water with a sponge. Place felt over the paper side of the mould and flip the mould and felt against a baking tray. Add any dried flowers, seeds or additional birch bark to the surface of the paper while it is still damp by pressing the decorative features into the wet surface of the paper.
Allow the paper to dry as it lays on the felt. To help it dry faster, place a second layer of felt over the paper and press to absorb water.
If you want to write on your paper, add a tablespoon of white glue or cornflour to your paper in Step 2. Glue or cornstarch acts as a sizing to the paper, which will make it less porous to ink.
Tips and warnings
- If you want to write on your paper, add a tablespoon of white glue or cornflour to your paper in Step 2. Glue or cornstarch acts as a sizing to the paper, which will make it less porous to ink.
Things you need
- Birch bark
- Scrap paper
- Measuring cup
- Plastic dish tub
- Picture frame
- Window screen
- Staple gun
- Plastic paddle
- Felt fabric
- Baking tray