During the 1990’s there was a keen interest in homemade recycled paper for arts and crafts. Overnight, shredded paper bins at offices were poached for their contents. Magazines of all calibre carried articles on how to do decorative recycle paper at home.
The recycled paper process is fairly straightforward. You will require a 20-25lt bucket, shredded or paper torn up by hand, water, mulching/blending method and A4 frames with very fine mesh.
Place into the bucket some paper until just over half full. Add water 15lt of water. Soak the shredded paper for 2-3 days. Leaving mixture too long has not benefited and will result in a pungent Ngodwane like aroma being emitted. The simplest and quite effective way to mulch the pulp is by means of an electric drilling machine with a homemade blade attached. For this use, a section 6-8mm threaded rod with a blade clamped at one end using 2 nuts. Blend the soaked pulp in the bucket. The pulp can also be placed in a blender and pulped bit by bit.
The pulp is now ready for straining. It helps to coat the mesh with aerosol cooking oil. This assists the release of the dried paper. Use a beaker to scoop and pour the pulp onto the frames. Trial and error will determine how much you need for the desired thickness. The wet paper can be decorated by gently pressing in dry flower petals, rooibos tea leaves and glitter.
The best environmental drying method is direct sunlight. The dried result was a sheet of course paper suitable for many art and craft uses such greeting cards, wedding invitations, decoration for framing of family photos etc. This is something the whole family can get involved in. Ideas can be exchanged with family, neighbours and friends. The maid and gardener should also be involved.
Another use for your homemade paper pulp is to make fire logs. The pulp will act as a binder to sawdust and wood shavings to produce fire logs. Using 25-30% pulp to sawdust is a good mix. Make the mixture stiff or strain off the excess water. Form logs by hand and leave it to dry in the sun. These paper fire logs burn well when mixed with normal firewood.
Artificial flowers can be folded from used magazines or books. The flowers can be simple in design or complex such as a giant Protea. Once completed, the paper flowers can be coloured using vegetable colorants.
For pulp making, glossy magazines can be used as well as newsprint, egg trays made from paper recycle etc. Paper with a plastic or wax coating cannot be recycled. It is therefore up to us to think of alternatives that we can buy or do to minimise the purchase or use of non-recyclable paper products.
Many people used old Christmas and birthday cards, calendars, magazines etc. to create new cards. This can have quite a saving effect.
The internet has hours of ideas for using used paper.