In honor of Earth Day yesterday, Big E and little e (our fabulous next-door neighbors) joined us for a lot of backyard April sun-soaking, and a fun recycling project--papermaking. Loosely following this tutorial, we all worked together to make one finished piece of paper, and a big ol' fun mess.
STEP ONE: Make a frame for the paper. This time we used a wire coathanger and pantyhose.
STEP TWO: Tear a bunch of newspaper into manageable squares. Put a couple of hearty handfuls into a blender or food processor with about a cup of water.
STEP THREE: Keep adding paper and water until you have a big grey glob with no readable paper left. Mix for two more minutes.STEP FOUR: Fill a sink about 4" full with water. Add two tablespoons of glue, and the grey glob that was in your blender. Mix well with your hands, until all of the pulp dissolves. STEP FIVE: Place the wire frame at the bottom of the sink, then slowly lift it out of the water. The tutorial recommends counting to twenty to ensure slowness (and therefore more paper on the frame), but we simply drained the sink, and it worked well.STEP SIX: Hang it out in the sunshine. STEP SEVEN: Allow it to dry completely, about 24 hours or so.STEP EIGHT: Carefully peel the paper from the frame. If you wish, iron to set it and flatten it, using the highest steam setting on an electric iron.LESSONS LEARNED: Next time I think I'll use two frames sandwiching some nylon or mesh. The wire hanger was too flexible and our paper, albeit a lovely first attempt, is rather wonky. It's also on the thick side, so the mesh, or fine screen, might result in a thinner paper.
After our prideful success, I helped Big B make his very first block printing stamp, using simple foam shapes and craft glue. We talked about a symbol that might represent our two families living next door. This is what he came up with.
This was a fun project all the way around. A true collaboration, the finished result is lovely, and celebrates creating new beauty from old things. Both the newspaper and the foam shapes we used were within days of the trash can or yard sale pile; yet because of the spirit of Earth Day, they were given new life by the hands of four special little people.