Gifts That Grow: Making Plantable Botanical Paper Part One

Paper_making_Burma_5Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz

Making paper is one of the easiest and most rewarding forms of arts and crafts – and a great way to pass the long winter days indoors.  Not only can you use recycled materials found around the house to make beautiful paper of all kinds, but when it is done you will have a piece of art that is unparalleled in its unique beauty and functionality. And by simply adding a few special flower or herb seeds to your lovely hand-crafted paper, it will become a plantable gift that keeps on giving!

Seeded paper is amazingly tough. It can be folded, cut and torn into any shape or size and can be glued, taped or stapled. Some of the heavier papers can even be stitched together on a sewing machine! In addition to being strong, homemade paper is versatile and can be used in many different ways.

Turn large sheets into decorative wrapping paper, small gift boxes, book covers, picture matting, placemats, wall art, party favor cups, decoupage paper and more. Seeded paper is used to best effect in sizes that are convenient for planting. Cards, bookmarks and table place settings make lovely gifts that the recipient can use to grow their very own garden!

Making seeded paper is easy and doesn’t require fancy or expensive tools and supplies. In fact, most people can come up with everything they need to make their own seeded botanical paper right at home. All it takes is few supplies and a little space in the kitchen or workshop.

The basic tools for making plantable paper include:

  • Mold (screen)
  • Deckle
  • Sponge
  • Dedicated Blender
  • Recycled Paper
  • Bucket, Plastic Storage Tub or Sink
  • Wool Felt, Heavy Brown Paper or Newspaper
  • Seeds
  • Decorative Additions

Molds & Deckles

One of the most important tools in papermaking is the mold, which is essentially a fine-meshed screening material stretched over a frame. Molds are used to capture paper pulp and allow excess water to drain away from the forming paper. By necessity, molds should have strong frames that don’t wobble or bend and screening material that won’t sag under the weight of wet paper. Because the papermaking process includes submerging the mold in water, make sure that it will fit completely inside of a water-tight sink, bucket or storage tub.

If desired, molds can be purchased from specialty craft suppliers, which are good but aren’t always cheap. Another option is to buy a small, adjustable replacement window screen at the hardware store. These sliding screens are usually around 15” long and have an aluminum outer frame. By removing the sliders that hold the screens together, you can have two excellent papermaking molds for around $7.00. You could also recycle old or discarded window screens, however, most will be too large to handle easily. If you do find a small screen, be sure that the material isn’t saggy and is free of holes.


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Another inexpensive mold option is to repurpose found objects such as picture and mirror frames. Begin preparing the frame by removing the glass, paper backing and any staples or nails that you find. Cut a piece of regular fiberglass window screening 2-3” longer and wider than the outer dimensions of the frame. Lay the screening evenly over the back of the frame. Working on one side at a time, fold the excess screen over the side and staple it securely. Move to the opposite side and pull the screening taught and again secure it with staples. Do the other two sides the same way and you have a functional papermaking mold

If you’re feeling up to a little construction, you can easily build any size mold you like using 1×1 lumber. For the kids, use waterproof glue to join four jumbo craft sticks together in a square, rectangle or triangle and secure the screening with staples. If a round mold works for your project, embroidery hoops are easy to find and very economical.

Most molds are small – usually not much larger than a standard sheet of notebook paper. If you would like to make bigger sheets of paper, select or build a mold that will accommodate the desired size, plus two additional inches on all sides.

Once you have your mold ready, it’s time to decide whether or not you will be using a deckle. Deckles are molds that are set on top of the mold and are used to make uniformly-sized paper with defined edges. They’re also used to make fun shapes, such as stars, hearts, and flowers. Deckles can be anything with a smooth inside edge, including cookie cutters, egg or pancake molds, embroidery hoops, old picture frames and more. If you need a custom size sheet of square or rectangular paper, deckles can be custom-built using quarter-round floor trim or 1” x 1” pine.

In part two of this four-part series, I will talk in detail about the materials you need to start crafting your own beautiful plantable botanical paper in a wide array of colors and textures that can be used to make a myriad of wonderful gift items including gift cards, wrapping paper and more. And the great news is that it won’t cost you a single penny because we’ll be using waste paper that would otherwise wind up in a landfill!  See you then!!

Paper Image: Thanks to Thomas Schoch [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

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Jill Henderson is an artist, author, and the editor of Show Me Oz  Her books, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, The Garden Seed Saving Guide and A Journey of Seasons and Illuminati Agenda 21 can be found in the Show Me Oz Bookstore.  Jill is a featured columnist for Acres USA and a contributing author to Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac and her work has appeared in The Permaculture Activist and The Essential Herbal.


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2 responses to “Gifts That Grow: Making Plantable Botanical Paper Part One

  1. I love your articles Jill, you definitely are a talented artist, inventor, creating amazing things one could never imagine.

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