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I’m going to start out apologizing that this is going to be a super long post.  I’ll keep the pictures small and the writing brief.

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Start with collecting your paper.  Newsprint is what I am using for this tutorial.  Please note that any ink will change the color of your final product.  Newsprint is probably the messiest choice – the ink gets everywhere.  To avoid that, choose unprinted parts of the paper.  Since I am not that particular and I don’t want to do that much work, I went with tearing up my entire paper into small pieces.  I kept the pieces in a box.  Don’t let this consume that much time because you will tear again later.

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You will need a screen and something to catch water.  Here I have an old window screen and a dish washing tub.  My first attempt, I used a tray which worked fine except I had to dump off the water several times.

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Then you need mold – I went with cookie cutters, cookie molds, and a few silicon molds I had in my stash (I will show the molds tomorrow but I wanted to note that the orange mold is from the dollar store).  You can use a wood square (such as a thick picture frame) or tin cans with no top or bottom (I would choose a short can).

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You will need a sponge or two.  These are from the dollar store (10 for $1).  Also, I found I liked having a firm surface such as a plate or tray when working with various techniques.

Later, I will show you my paper “press”.  This is just something you can do but do not have to do.  I don’t believe we pressed our paper the last time I made paper but if you want to, you will need something to absorb water like a towel (I used sham wows), something hard like wood, and weight.

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You, also, need a blender.  Our blender pitcher is one part and easy to clean so I did not designate this a paper making only blender.  It did require a really good scrubbing to get all the ink off – keep that in mind when determining what blender to use.

To start fill your blender about halfway with hot water.

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Add your paper.  I keep it in larger pieces and then tear it into tiny pieces as I add it to the blender.  (I feel like the larger pieces are better for storing, especially if someone knocks over your box.)

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Once you have paper up to about an inch from your top (our blender has a part that fits on the top so it looks less full than it is), cover with more water.

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Blend your paper into pulp.  I find it is easier to pulse initially before moving to a full blend.

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Lay your mold on your screen.

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Add some pulp to your mold.  Don’t worry if you have enough, you can add more pulp as you work it.  It’s easier to work with less pulp.

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Smoosh your pulp around with your sponge, pressing into the pulp to absorb the water.  Remember to wring out your sponge often.

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Keep pressing with sponge and arranging with your fingers until your pulp has no more give.

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Remove your mold.  You will notice that the edges are higher than the rest of the paper.

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With your sponge, flatten and press the paper until it is fairly uniform.  I made my paper rather thick because this does make a lot of pulp and I didn’t want to make tons of paper.  And it works better with my final project idea.

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Once the paper is firmly set, you should be able to lift and move it to your drying place.  If you don’t have a press setup, then you can either leave it on the screen, or move to another rack, to dry.

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My press is two old shelves and two shamwows.  Lay your papers on the bottom layer.

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Cover with another cloth and board.  This is your press.

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Add weight – here I have two 25 pound bags of things from my pantry.  I let my press sit for about 24 hours.

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As you can see, this process doesn’t dry the paper – it just gives the fibers a chance to really meld together so my paper doesn’t fall apart.

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Move to a drying rack until they are dry.

I was going to share more information and how I did some of the pieces you see in the picture but that just about doubled this post.  Looks like there will be 4 posts if all goes well.  See you tomorrow for part 2 and how to add things to your paper as you are making it.

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