13 December 2006

Making Paper

We use tissue, bond paper, gift wraps, newspaper, and slips of paper to pass notes. We use a lot of paper. Now you can make your own paper just using old paper. Basically, paper is a sheet of fibrous material. Cellulose and water molecules are pressed together, and due to surface tension paper is formed. Cellulose can be obtained from wood pulp, spinach, cotton, flax, cabbage, grass, or any common weeds. However, the cellulose content varies and has to be taken by boiling kilos of initial organic matter in lye. Lye is a caustic acid, which dissolves vegetable matter. In the process, to give it color, smoothen it, prevent blotching, chemicals such as alum, chlorine, etc. and unnatural dyes are added. Finally, after boiling the cellulose left with a lot of toxic waste water. That is why we see a toxic plume of pollution next to paper factories. The home method is a non-polluting, small-scaled way of making one's own paper. Material Needed:
  1. Torn pieces of waste paper that has been collected (coloured or plain), can separate the colours for different coloured paper
  2. Some dried flowers and leaves could be added to the pulp after it has been strained
  3. A mould and a deckle, and a hand press
  4. Heavy Duty mixie/ Blender (depending on the amount of paper pulp)
  5. Iron mesh
  6. 2 thin clean cotton cloths (which will not leave any impression on the paper.
  7. Sponge
The frame and the hand press has to be built. Build a frame 11 inches width into 16 inches height(this can vary according to the paper size desired). The wood has to be of half-an inch thickness. Make a frame and staple or tack the mesh on to it. Put duck tape on the sides to keep the mesh in place. Attach two handles to both the sides of the frame(for lifting it). Then cut out an even wooden plank, same size as the frame. Soak the bits and pieces of paper for an hour and blend it together in the mixie. Then mix the pulp with water in a tub. Dip the frame into the tub, right to the bottom. Lift it and let the paper pulp settle. Even it out. Place the dried flower and leaves in the pattern you want it. Place a clean cotton cloth over it and press it with the wooden plank. Wait till the water drains out. Then turn the frame over and let the pulp settle on the cotton cloth. Lift the frame off. Place another cotton cloth on the paper and turn it over. The paper is now off the wooden plank. Place the extra cotton cloth on it and sponge out the excess water. Finally you can let the paper dry.

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