Paper Making Possibilities

To Pulp or not to Pulp – That is the Question

handmade papers

Ask anyone who has the “paper passion” and they will tell you that "handmade paper and paper making is addictive" – as are all the decorating ideas that you will have for using the stuff (the possibilities are truly endless)!

And although the rigors of making your own paper isn’t for everyone, basic paper making is really a cheap hobby if you’re looking for something to get involved with on a tight budget. All that is required is pulp, water and a few very basic tools.

Depending on your temperament, preparing your own paper pulp will either be a fascinating, almost meditative process, or a laborious task. If you’re a “Type A” personality, “ready to go” paper pulp, fortunately, can be purchased from a variety of suppliers

Years ago I attended a 2 week handmade paper making workshop at Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland, Oregon – a wonderful place to learn, play and explore creative options.

I was instantly hooked on the possibilities of handmade paper, not only making it, but the endless art ideas and decorating ideas possible with this incredibly versatile medium. Later, when Art (the husband, not the process) and I started loose ends and began exploring the work of handmade paper artists all over the world, it was absolutely intoxicating.

Although I found the craft of making my own handmade paper fascinating and somehow viscerally rewarding, it is time consuming, and so must be looked at as a labor of love, not as a quick or economical way (if you value your time) to make your own handmade paper.

And, after making your own handmade paper, you will understand why each hand crafted sheet can be considered a piece of artwork, and is treated as such by the purveyors of handmade paper. Although paper making itself may be a cheap hobby, the finished product is anything but!

handmde paper possibilities!

I really do enjoy occasionally indulging in the paper making process and crafting my own handmade paper, but I have discovered that my overriding interest is in what I can do with the stuff once it is “paper” – that wonderful right brain bombardment of all the art, design and decorating ideas that handmade paper lends itself to.

Additionally, I am a glutton for all the endless varieties, textures, colors, patterns, transparencies, opaques, inclusions, etc., etc., etc., and I could never in one lifetime (or probably a dozen) make all the hundreds (thousands) that interest me. So, I am ok with letting someone else do the cooking – I’m here to taste it all! handmade paper varieties

That being said, I still wanted to give you guys a basic paper making recipe that anyone can easily do.

Some Other Pulp Thoughts:

Here are a few of the unleashed art ideas and paper projects I played with while still at that wonderful workshop.

  • While the paper pulp is still wet, drape your paper sheet over some 3 dimensional objects – one of my favorites was to make a “place setting” complete with plate and utensils, all molded into the handmade paper.

  • When creating the paper pulp, add bits of colorful embroidery thread to the mix. You get delightful “squiggles” of color throughout your pulp.

  • Add pigment (acrylic inks or paints) to your pulp for a “beater dyed” color throughout the paper pulp.

  • When you have “pulled” as many sheets of handmade paper as you want, use a strainer to gather any remaining paper pulp and form into a ball. This can be dried and stored for future use – Just add water and stir!

  • Those balls of dried, pigmented paper pulp? Try using a variety of complimentary colors pressed into either a mold or hand formed sheets.

  • Sheets of damp (not wet) paper pulp can be gently formed over bowls, large rocks, etc. to create beautiful “vessels”.

  • Press botanical material into partially dried paper pulp sheets.

  • Thick paper pulp can be molded into “bricks” or “tiles”. (we did an entire fireplace surround with paper pulp tiles for The Christopher Lowell Show a few years ago).

      To pulp or not to pulp - only you can answer that question. If you want a really addictive, yet cheap hobby and you have some patience – then paper making is going to be right up your alley.

      If you don’t have the patience (like some of us) and want to dive right into some of the art and decorating ideas you can create with this wonderful stuff, then check out the wonderful world (and varieties) of handmade paper out there, just waiting for your creativity!

      And who says you can’t “have your paper and make it too”? Personally I have reached a very happy compromise with buying wonderful papers made by other paper makers, and also making my own when I have the time and inclination – the best of both worlds!

      return from Paper Making Possibilities, To Pulp or not to Pulp - That is the Question to Art Decorating Ideas, Unleashed!

      Handmade Paper, a Personal Passion

      Basic Papermaking Recipe, Messy but Fun