Friday, May 14, 2010


Time for another history adventure! Together with our friends, we tried our hand at papermaking, which is something the Ancient Chinese first perfected. It is so much fun - and so much (wet) mess! Next time we'll try to order better weather (it was drizzly and cool) so we can work outdoors!

Before the fun of papermaking, we needed a few supplies. If you are ever interested in making your own paper, there are some good websites with directions like here, but we got hooked at the Ontario Science Centre. We were able to make paper there, and they sent us home with good directions (the link to the Science Centre will take you to their papermaking directions). We purchased a blender at Goodwill, and some old picture frames at another second-hand store. I bought some screen (like you'd use on your screen door) and we cut pieces to fit the frames, and stapled it on - this was to make the mould and deckle - the thing you drag through the pulp to form the paper. We took a stack of cloth diapers (the rectangular variety), and our friends provided some towels because you generate a lot of water with this activity! A couple of tubs to hold the pulp, and some paper out of the recycling bin (including some colourful tissue and construction paper) and we were ready to go! Here's what we did:

The first step was to rip up our scrap paper into little pieces - keep your colours separate!

Then paper bits go in the blender with water and get blended up into a pulp. The pulp goes into a tub, with more water for a nice, soupy, pulpy mess. We also added glitter to the pulp to make our paper fancy!

Emmi is forming a piece of paper with our mould and deckle. You push the mould and deckle to the bottom of the tub, swirl the pulp around evenly, and slowly lift up the mould and deckle, letting the water drain away. A pulpy sheet of paper is left behind.

Then you turn the pulpy mess (still on the deckle) over and squish out as much water as you can onto the cloth (diapers in our case). Lift up the deckle, and hopefully your wet paper remains behind on the cloth.

To get out even more water, the wet paper is sandwiched in cloth diapers and then between two books (or pieces of wood), and a weight (in this case, Pip, jumping up and down) is applied.

Very carefully, transfer the damp paper to a clean cloth to dry. As you can see, we made orange and green paper. The orange paper was thinner, and we tried some cool effects on it, like making green shapes in it (lower left, you can see a piece of orange paper with the top of a green tree in it - very cool!).
By the time we'd cleaned up, and had a recovery cup of tea, the damp paper was dry enough to handle and take home.

1 comment:

sarahjane said...

Woohoo! Fun day indeed - now - what are you going to do with your paper? Rowe has written a letter on one but the rest have remained untouched - I just don't want them going to waste for some 'whatever' doodling or something...:)
Thanks for posting this AND including us in the fun- it was a good time.