Handmade Recycled Paper

During my last year at NIU I started a project based on the idea of converting junkmail into something with utilitarian and aesthetic value. I spent many many hours converting piles of adds and credit card applications into handmade paper. I loved it! I do love it! 


I never did really look up the proper way to make handmade paper, most of the books I picked up had many specialized tools I didn’t want to invest in or weren’t readily available. A year later, I’ve been thinking about my junk mail project again. I’m thinking that I might maybe just maybe start it up again. And with that I decided there had to be a better way to make paper than how I had been. I went to the Rose Tree Fiber shop on Saturday and found this great book on making paper called Creative Handmade Paper: how to make paper from recycled and natural materials by David Watson.


This book has everything you need to to get started making paper with recycled materials and plant matter. And the best thing is that you don’t need any specialized equipment. He shows you how to build your own frame, stretch the screen, how to couche the paper so you can make and then press multiple sheets, and a whole lot of other interesting techniques, like embossing and “painting” with paper pulp. I think the only thing he uses that wouldn’t found in the hardware store is the press.


Because this is a piece of equipment that is heavy, durable, and specific, you can usually request to use one from your local university or art center without too much trouble. They are pretty hard to break, so organizations are more likely to let you use them. There are two places here in town that I think might be okay with me making paper using their facilities and I can’t wait to go into full production mode and use up some of this junk mail. 

Here are some other books that looked pretty good for using up recycled, handmade, plant based, and junkmail paper:

Re-Bound: Creating Handmade Books from Recycled and Repurposed Materials
Papermaking with Garden Plants & Common Weeds
The Papermaker’s Companion: The Ultimate Guide to Making And Using Handmade Paper
The Art of Papermaking with Plants
Making Your Own Paper

I’ll keep you updated on the junk mail project. I think once I get a system going I might offer some up in the Kro Studio shop. I think it would go well with the other stationary I sell there. Maybe I can even make some junk mail note cards. I need a studio assistant, haha. I have too many things I want to do and not enough time to do them all, haha. 

Happy crafting!

2 thoughts on “Handmade Recycled Paper

  1. I actually had the exact same problem with excess paper and junk mail. And handmade paper is really hard work, but fun. What I finally did is found a way to convert my excess junk mail into incense – it gets burned, it smells pretty, and it’s really fun to make. If I have too much incense paper I just add a little extra for my Etsy customers.

  2. While other people hate doing crafts because it takes time or that they are not too creative enough, there are also others who enjoy this activity for they can explore their individuals styles in making their very recycled paper crafts.
    It is nice to know that there are people who still appreciate handmade items such as paper.

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