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Topic: Recycle your paper yourself

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Subject: Recycle your paper yourself
Date Posted: 12/20/2008 8:09 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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I get comments a lot about my recycled paper projects. I will tell you all how to do it there are a lot of steps but its really easy. All you need is a big basin (I use a rubbermaid tote) some old panty hose, an old wire hanger, some sort of absorbant cloth (I use old tshirts cut up) a spounge and a blender (cant be used for food afterwards) Oh and paper scraps I use everything from the edges of my PBS book labels to papers I no longer need. One thing though news print comes out gray unless you add a lot of a coloring or a lot of darkly colored paper scraps. Also glossy paper doesnt take color at all. (instead of recyclng glossy pages this way I use them to make envelopes)

So to start off you need to bend the hanger into a roughly square shape then stretch the hose tight across it and tie them off to make a screen. Then you get your scraps cut them (or tear them) into about half and inch to an inch pieces. Put about a cup of the scraps into the blender then add two to three cups of water. Pulse it a few times to get it going then puree it for about 30 seconds. This is when you will wanna add color. You can do that by just mixing in colored paper along with the plain scraps (construction paper works well because it has a lot of dye in it) or add coloring like food coloring or koolaid which also makes the paper smell good.

Dump that into the basin and do a few more batches. Less pulp will make a thiner tissue like paper more makes thicker paper. Add twice as much water to the batch (so if you did three batches you add 6-9 cups of water) then slide the screen into the mixture and swish it around a bit. Pull it straight up out of the water and let it drain a bit. Now you need to put it on something absorbant (I recomend doing this on top of something plastic I just use the lid to the tote) Take the spounge and press down hard onto the pulp to get as much water as you can out of it. You can stack the pages on top of each other if you have a layer of cloth or what ever you use between them. I generally put a towel over the top of the stack and weigh it down with a heavy book (I have an encyclopedia of dictionaries that works well.)

When you have gotten as much water out as you can you can lay the pages flat onto something to let them dry. If you have gotten all the water that you can out you should be able to do this without tearing them. When they are dry they can be used for just about anything. I made a set of stationary with them and some magazine page envelopes for a green swap I joined in the summer. Oh and if you need the paper dry quickly for some reason (like making invitations or something) you can use a hair dryer on a low setting. A couple of minutes a page should do the trick but letting them dry on their own is optimal because it requires no electricity.

Date Posted: 12/20/2008 9:10 AM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,565
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Are you able to fold the paper?  I've made paper using this same technique on and off for years now, but I can never fold it without the paper breaking.  I've tried adjusting the thickness, but it always seems to break.  Am I doing something wrong or does this paper just not bend?  Oh, most of the time I'm using regular copy paper, old worksheets, memos, etc. from my school.

Date Posted: 12/20/2008 7:18 PM ET
Member Since: 12/16/2008
Posts: 6
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I read somewhere that adding white glue such as Elmers to the mix makes the paper more durable. 

Date Posted: 12/20/2008 9:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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Your probably making it too thick. Try adjusting the pulp to water ratio. Like if you do 4 cups of paper pulp add in 12 or more cups of water. The more water for the pulp to float around in the less will be on the screen. I had to play around a bit to get it to the thickness that I like. If you find once you get it on the draining cloth that its too thick you can just put the pulp back in the water and swish it around a litte and add more water. If it comes out too thin wait about an hour and let the pulp settle and you can pull the water out without getting the pulp into it because it will sink to the bottom.

As for the glue I tried it and didnt like it. It made the paper too stiff to do much with. I like the softer texture of the paper without the glue. If however you want to do something like printing or stamping on it then you will probably need to put starch or glue or something like that in the water because large amounts of ink tend to run on the soft paper. Just writing on it is no problem without the starch though.

Date Posted: 12/21/2008 8:08 AM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,565
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I've tried adjusting the pulp as you suggested, but haven't hit the right combination just yet.  Now that I know I'm doing it right, I'll keep trying.  Either that or make bigger envelopes so I don't have to fold the paper. LOL!  Thanks. :-)



Last Edited on: 12/21/08 8:09 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/21/2008 9:19 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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You may not be leving it on puree long enough. The bigger the pieces of paper the harder its gonna be to get a good consistancy. It needs to be like pureed soup rather than chunky.

Date Posted: 12/21/2008 12:33 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,565
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That may be the problem, Chris.  I'll give it a little extra time and make sure the mix is pureed completely and see if that helps.



Last Edited on: 12/21/08 12:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
T. -
Date Posted: 12/24/2008 11:33 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2007
Posts: 9,989
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Have you tried using your paper puree in any molds?  I wonder how that would work?  What about adding natural items--like seeds, plant fibers, flower petals, etc?  Do you think that would make a difference?  What about using a window screen instead of pantyhose?  Would the holes be too big?

Date Posted: 12/26/2008 9:47 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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I put seeds in the set that I made for the swap. I dont think I told the person who got it that though LOL. I havent tried a mold but I keep meaning to. Right now I just dont feel like being elbow deep in water with it cold out. Even if the house is warm it chills me to do it. When it warms up I'll get back to it. In the mean time Im saving up paper for it.

Date Posted: 12/29/2008 12:46 AM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2006
Posts: 54
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Hi all. I thought this was a very cool thread considering the Christmas present we bought for me and our 3 year old son. We were walking through walmart and saw a paper recycle kit by Bill Nye the science guy. I am going to try some of the stuff you suggested after we try our kit. It is for smaller projects.  It included some molds though, heart, star and circle I believe. They are about 6 inches.

It also suggested putting gelatin in the mix to be able to write on the paper without it bleeding through. You said ours worked fine as is, right? It also mentioned adding seeds to make it plantable, very cool idea. And using vegetable scraps to add color. I haven't been able to try any of it yet. I love the info you put on here though and am sharing it with many others. Thanks

Sara