handmade blooming paper

i remember the curious process of making paper when i was a kid — it was always sort of odd to me that we’d take perfectly good paper, shred it up, get it wet, and make it into new lumpy paper. curious, indeed, but making your own paper is a fun and wonderful way to recycle scraps you may have laying around the house into something lovely (and something that blooms – read on!)

i was inspired by a guest post on make & takes and decided that creating plantable paper with flower seeds in it would make for lovely mother’s day cards. so N and i got busy collecting select colors of paper scraps we had around our art studio. (we chose analogous colors so that when they blended, they’d make a color that was not brown. N’s favorite colors are purple and red, so this worked out well. she helped in hunting for the scraps in our art room, and chose to recycle some of her own preschool art work and valentine hearts, too.)

then the ripping process began! little did i know that tearing is a good lesson for little hands! i sometimes forget that these seemingly ordinary tasks are things we learned along the way, so i took the opportunity to teach N about tearing. we tore them up into little bits no bigger than a square inch. next we put the colors into our blender.

we added just enough water to cover the paper shreds, then we blended until it looked like, as N said, “a raspberry smoothie.” after that, N sprinkled flower seeds into the pulp. (we chose zinnias.)

do not blend after the seeds are in – just stir them into the pulp with a spoon.

 

after that, i strained the pulp through a mesh strainer, pushing the water out with a wooden spoon. (if you don’t have a mesh strainer, just place a thin towel in the bottom of your colander and that should work, too.)

i had prepared a cookie sheet with an art rag/towel on it, then a layer of felt. once i pressed the water out of the pulp, i attempted to spread it out evenly onto the felt sheet. (this is where i realized that it may be really hard for this pulp to dry in such a way as to make a sheet of paper – it seemed really clumpy and separated.) i pressed on it (to squeeze water out) with another towel on top. N even helped with this using her small rolling pin.

i put it aside to dry overnight… and it actually took about a day and a half. once it was dry, i attempted to cut it into cute flower shapes; however, as i suspected, it was crumbly and very little of it was able to be cut. i tried and struggled a bit to get a few good pieces that look like flowers. you could also make hearts, butterflies, or whatever you wish… or whatever you can manage to cut. i get the sense that using cookie cutters when the pulp is almost dry would work better. or even using a stencil after to make a nice, clean shape. i think that next time we do it, we will try for a finer pulp so that it can be spread more thin on the felt, and hopefully stick together enough to make a sheet.

then we chose some colors to make a few cards, and glued the seed paper flowers onto the cards, using buttons for flower centers.

we will write a note inside with the planting instructions for the pastel zinnias in hopes that the recipients will watch these paper flowers bloom into real blossoms… sweet spring, easter, or mother’s day cards.

03.15

2010
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