Experimentation with Paper Making

Therese Heng · 107 ·

I've always loved experimenting with paper so I thought why not just create my own? I've watched heaps of YouTube videos on how to make it and have experimented before, but this time I thought it would be fun to also challenge myself to make paper solely with whatever I could find around me. So I worked with everyday materials you will be able to find at home, namely in the kitchen:

  • Blender
  • Multi purpose dry wipes
  • Absorbent sponge cloth
  • Sponges
  • Ice cream scooper
  • Cake sieve
  • Gloves

And optional to include hair dryer (if you are impatient like me)

And here are the steps to making your own paper:

Cut paper into small strips. I used white, blue and pink paper. It is optional to soak it in water overnight.

Pour it into a blender and (add water if you haven’t soaked it) and blitz for a minute.

It should look like this - a pulpy mixture!

Next, pour water into a bowl and pour the pulp mixture in.

Put your sieve in and collect the mixture and slowly drain out the water.

Swirl the paste in the sieve to even it out and knock out the access water before using your sponge cloth to absorb the initial water.

Once you feel it is ready, you can gently knock it out of the sieve. Lay it out on multi purpose wipes and continue to dry it with a sponge + cloth + optional hair dryer.

Leave it out in the sun to dry!

What's important

I found out it really helps to have an absorbent sponge cloth to soak out the initial water so you are able to knock it out of the sieve easily

What I learnt

I initially wanted my paper to be speckled blue and pink with a white base but lesson learnt here is not to be too greedy with the colors as the dominant color blue will over power the white and essentially your paper paste will turn out to just be an overall blue blue! Will experiment with just white paper first and mix in just a bit of color in the draining and drying process next :)

When sieving out the paste, do swirl it a little to make sure it flattens out at the ends so you get an even flat piece, and knock the sides of your sieve like you would when sieving flour for baking. This way, you knock out as much water as you can before taking your absorbent sponge cloth to absorb the water.

It was obvious that my first attempt was very thick so I experimented with making a thinner layer for the second round.

1st try

2nd Try

Here they are, all left to dry out in the sun.

I’ll update again if it works. If it does, then wouldn't it be fun if the children could make their own paper to write letters on as part of VIVIPAL? IT would be so nice to receive snail mail of a handwritten note on handmade paper, wouldn’t it. How special that would be.

Further experimentation
I really want to incorporate the ideas of the rest of the crew too so recently i saw what Clarissa has been making and thought it would be fun if we explored with 3d molds too.

They can take the place of cookie cutters and instead of just plain paper we can experiment with using the 3D molds to create shapes on the paper itself! Eventually children can make their own paper AND their own 3D molds for different designs. The possibilities are endless! Thank you to Sau Fen who inspired me with this post she pointed me to of a washi factory in Tokushima that created such a fun way for children to make paper with cookie cutters! How cute and fun!

Can't wait to see how all of this will turn out! Look forward to my follow up post on this :)


Instead of adding colored paper into the paper pulp mix, today I manually cut tiny strips of colored paper into the pressed paper instead to create the confetti speckled effect.

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Was discussing with the team on the fastest way to get rid of water in the paper as we prepare to curate a workshop based on this and while a dehydrator seems to be the best option we looked at what we have in the space and Abel had the good sense to think of using the heat press to heat up the paper to rid off its access of water! So we wasted no time in trying it out!

Before that, we quickly used a hair dryer to dry off whatever water we could and also used a sponge to continuing dabbing while waiting for the heat press to be ready. We also placed dry wipes ontop of our paper just to be safe.

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We had no indicator so we decided to go with what we usually do for fabrics/paper and chose the same temperature 165degrees and for 15 seconds! What a mistake it was! The paper got slightly fried in the mix as it was probably too hot!

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After lunch, we experimented with bringing the temperature down to its lowest of 106degrees and kept it to 10 seconds without pushing down the lever fully, and instead I just lightly pressed on it like it was a mini iron. I repeated this step three times and wouldnt you know.. it sort of worked!!

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Double-click for Image Properties
Double-click for Image Properties

Here it is!

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My next experimentation phrase

Definitely going to attempt exploring with molds next! Clarissa has 3d printed so many new designs so I will attempt to create different shapes and colors on a single sheet of paper!

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She has also created an embossing machine which we can have so much fun with. Tried rolling the paper I made through the 3d printed embosser she recently made and look at the fun design imprinted on it!

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Can't wait to explore more with all the different ways to first of all, make paper! and after, have all the fun with it!

Imagine if we had different stations to emboss paper, create different color gradients on one sheet of paper (mix and match different paper pulp), or design your own 3D molds to create a new kind of paper design .. there is just so much we can work on!

We are looking to streamline all of this (hence looking at ways to cut short the process of our paper drying) so we can turn these processes into super fun workshops for you to try out! :) Stay tuned!