So, I’ve been wanting to expand into paper making for a while now. As a way to do that, I figured I’d give the tutorial, Seed Packet Cards a try. Let’s see how this turns out, shall we?
I had to make a couple of substitutions when gathering supplies. Although we’re full grown adults, we’re full grown adults without a dish pan, so I cleaned out and used a bucket instead. I couldn’t find any wood around thin enough for clothes pins, so I ended up using bag clips instead.
For seeds, I had a couple of very old packets still hanging around, so I’m not even sure if they’d grown when planted.
The actual process of making the paper is pretty easy, though a bit on the time consuming side.
Commence Paper Making
|Sorry, baby girl. You can have your
lovin’s later. Now, it’s time for you to
get some exercise.
I’d read somewhere that if you want to make paper on a regular basis, it’s best to get a dedicated blender, since some chemicals used in producing certain types of paper can be toxic, so you don’t want to use the blender you cook with. I got mine from a thrift store for about $14.99, so it really doesn’t need to be top of the line.
Let It Soak
To make the blending process go a little more easily, you’ll want to soak the shredded paper in water, as the tutorial had stated. About fifteen minutes did the trick.
As you wait, make the time go by faster by eliminating world hunger, figuring out the question to life’s question of 42 or donating to my fundraiser for Endure4Kindness. (See what I did there? I’m so sly.)
Anyway, after letting the paper sit in the water for a while, it’s time to scare the cat away from the kitchen for a while. Don’t worry, they’ll forgive you afterwards, and will continue being your buddy until you turn on the vacuum cleaner.
Blending the Pulp
I ended up blending the white paper for several intervals of maybe one or two minutes before it reached a smooth consistency. It really didn’t take long at all.
You can’t really see it in the picture, but I’d used both a yellow and an orange sheet of construction paper for this. I found that once I had finished adding it, the mixture got a little too thick, so I added about half a cup of water.
When you finally blend all of the chunks out, the pulp should look like it has the consistency of a smoothie or thick milkshake.
An unintended consequence of using orange and yellow for my colors was the sudden craving for Orange Julius. I’m sure different colors, except perhaps black, will cause cravings for different flavors. This is why I don’t make miniature food.
Into the Bucket We Go
Of course, that craving was quickly quashed with the next step. As the tutorial said, the sight and sound of the pulp going into the bucket of water is far less than appetizing.
Fortunately, that image won’t last for long. Although you might not want to, plunge your hand into that mess and break up the pulp. If you’re squeamish, there’s no shame in wearing a long cleaning glove, but it wasn’t bad mixing it up with a bare hand. It just felt like sticking my hand into water and sloshing it around.
|Reminds me of the last time I had Steel Reserve beer. Ugh. Never again.|
Panning for Paper
Ok, so I don’t know the exact term for that, but this is where you sprinkle the seeds into the mix, stick the screen in and shake it around. Yes, it’s the exact same motion as if you were panning for gold.
Now, a combination of things went wrong for me.
- The boards I ended up using weren’t nearly long enough to provide a solid base for the screen. I’d tried attaching the screen long-wise to them, but they wouldn’t fit in the bucket, so I had to do so short-wise. Next time, I’ll be better prepared.
- I just got too impatient with the process. I didn’t move the screen around nearly enough, and stopped dipping before I’d gotten an even layer of pulp/seeds onto the surface. However, I still wound up with enough paper for the project in question.
|My first attempt at fresh paper pulp. Obviously, I need
Dry it Out
The tutorial suggested dabbing excess water off of the pulp, once you put it down on the dish towel or paper towels. It also said to do it carefully.
She wasn’t kidding. If you don’t dab small areas at a time and do it carefully, the pulp will stick to the towel and tear away.
How do I know? ‘Cause that’s exactly what happened to me.
You can see where it happened right in the middle of the attempt in the picture. Whoops.
Since I was cutting the resulting paper into smaller pieces anyway, I figured it wasn’t a total loss.
I’m sure someone out there has tried speeding the drying process up with a hair dryer or fan, but I figured I’d just let air do its trick. I didn’t really keep track of just how long it took to dry, but I do know that it was more than 3 or 4 hours. I ended up leaving it overnight after checking a couple of times, and it was completely dry come morning.
|The paper is a bit lighter, but the color is still decent. Also, I had already started peeling it off just before taking the picture.|
Making the Cards
Creating the cards themselves takes a little planning. You’ll want to know what type of picture you’d like to draw, or at least incorporate the new paper into, and how you want to use the paper. Generally, I find that the simpler the project, the better it turns out the first time.
So, naturally, I improvised. Planning isn’t my strong suit, and neither is drawing. Either way, I think they turned out to be rather cute.
|Left to right – A cloud-which-was-originally-supposed-to-be-a-pumpkin trying to put out a glowing heart, a bowl of mutated fruit and some rather depressed flowers.|
At the end of the day, the tutorial was very easy to follow. I’d advise two things, though:
- Don’t dump all of your seeds into the pulp. Put some aside to sprinkle on top before the paper finishes drying. If you get impatient, like I did, you won’t get as many seeds into the paper as you might like.
- Make sure you have wood long and thin enough to work with clothes pins, but short enough to work with the container you’ll be using. It’ll probably get rid of some of the frustration you’ll experience and give you a more consistent paper in the end.
Overall, this is a wonderful project to use as a house warming gift or a present for anyone who enjoys growing things. I fully stand behind the suggestion of using a mixed wildflower packet of seeds, too, since many plants have some growing restrictions.