Spring is in the air and we’ve got things on our mind like planting our garden. We also just celebrated Earth Day so we are also thinking about things like composting and recycling. Combine that with Mother’s Day coming up and a whole wack of birthday parties (seems all of Molly’s friends were born in the spring) and the wheels started turning. How about, instead of spending money on greeting cards that are going to go end up in the recycling bin, or worse yet, the trash, we make our own cards? And let’s not stop there. Let’s make our own paper too, out of paper we already were going to recycle! But wait, there’s more! Let’s add some seeds to that paper so not only have we reduced some waste but we’ve created something that can be planted and create new life. This might all seem like a big job, and when I first approached it I thought it might be. But this project turned out to be super simple, really fun and definitely rewarding. We did have to buy a few (cheap) supplies but they can be used over and over to make more paper so it’s a very small investment in term of money and waste.
DIY Recycled Plantable Paper
- a wooden picture frame (or more than one if you want to make several pieces of paper at once). I picked mine up at the dollar store.
- some kind of screen material. Again I picked up mine at the dollar store and right now is a great time to find these sorts of supplies and the spring and summer inventory is hitting the shelves. You can use metal screen if you happen to have some but this cheap fabric material really worked well.
- food coloring if you want to color your paper
- scrap paper. I shredded up some flyers from the recycling bin. Any paper you have lying around that you don’t want to keep will work.
- a pan or container large enough for your frame to fit in
- a hot glue gun
- a light coloured (so the colour doesn’t transfer to your paper) non terry cloth
- a rolling pin (or a can will work if you don’t have a rolling pin)
- a blender
You are going to start by making screens for your paper. First, take apart the picture frame, removing the back and the glass.
Next take your screen material and cut a piece just slightly larger than your frame. Using the hot glue, attach the screen to the frame so it is taught across the opening.
Set aside to let the glue dry.
Next fill your blender with shredded or cut up paper.
Add just enough water to cover the paper. Pulse until the paper and water turn into pulpy mixture. I used old flyers here so my paper was a dull grey sort of colour which actually wasn’t all that unappealing. It would have a rustic look to it. But we decided to add a couple of drops of food colouring to ours.
Pour the paper pulp mixture into a bowl and add the seeds. Stir to distribute the seeds throughout the mixture.
Place your frame with the screening on it inside the pan. Pour the paper pulp mixture into the frame.
Spread the mixture evenly in the frame. Next take the frame out and set it across the pan so the pan will catch the water that will continue to drip out.
Use your cloth to gently pat the pulp and remove some of the excess water.
Now open up your cloth and place it directly over the paper mixture. Turn the frame upside down so the mixture transfers from the frame onto the cloth.
Now fold the cloth over the paper (or use a second cloth if it’s not big enough) and use your rolling pin to gently flatten out the paper to the desired thickness (don’t go too thin).
Remove the top cloth and transfer the paper (still with the cloth beneath) to a baking rack. Place in the sun to dry. How long it takes to dry really depends on the size and thickness of the paper as well as the temperature. I lucked out with a warm sunny (and somewhat breezy) day so mine was dry in a couple of hours. If you can’t put yours outside in the sun that’s fine, you can dry it inside, it will just take a little longer.
When the paper is completely dry gently unpeel it from the cloth.
We made a couple of different colours of paper and used one to cut out shapes to decorate the other to make this cute card.
You won’t be able to fold this paper into a traditional card because it’s a little too fragile for that but you can write on it.
When the time comes that you are done admiring your creation simply plant it like you would regular seeds!