In part one of this four-part series on making your own unique plantable botanical paper, I covered the various tools you will need to start your project and how to find, repurpose or make your own paper molds and deckles. This week I talk in detail about the materials you will need to start crafting your botanical paper including the various types of waste paper that can be recycled and how to add texture and color to your homemade work of art.
Gathering Supplies to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
The great part about making your own seeded paper is reusing waste paper that would otherwise wind up in a landfill. Indeed, homemade paper is made from just about any kind of non-glossy paper or paper product you can imagine and each will lend its own character and strength to the finished product. Here are just a few of the types of paper you can recycle into the perfect seeded gift card:
- Construction Paper
- Egg Cartons
- Greeting Cards and Invitations
- Junk Mail
- Manila Envelopes
- Non-glossy magazines
- Old Book Pages
- Paper Grocery Bags
- Paper Towel and Wrapping Paper Rolls
- Paper Towels
- Phone Book Pages
- Picture Frame Matting
- Recycled Copy or Printer Paper
- Recycled Envelopes
- Tissue Paper
Although there are many kinds of paper to choose from, there are a few that you should avoid when making homemade paper. These include paper that has a waxy or glossy surface such as sale ads, cereal boxes, slick poster board and paper that has a waxy surface. The fibers in these kinds of paper don’t break up well when blended with water and can leave big, unattractive lumps in the finished product. Very dense papers can be used, but they usually need longer soaking times to soften them completely. Also, avoid commercial paper printed with intensely-colored inks and raised or glossy inks, which often contain unpleasant chemicals that should not be used in the garden.
You might hear differently, but most newspaper, colored paper and copy-machine paper – even those with colored ink – is safe to use. Most of the inks used in these printing processes are still soy-based and can be safely used in the garden. So, go ahead and bring home that trash bag full of shredded documents and failed copies from the office and do your part to make the world a greener place.
Color and Texture
The type of scrap paper you choose will determine the final color and texture of your seeded paper. If you would like the finished surface to be relatively smooth, use smooth paper scraps such as recycled printer or copy paper, tissue paper, envelopes and invitations. Use a combination of smooth and rough papers to achieve rustic or artistic surfaces. Paper scraps from construction paper, egg cartons and cardboard will all give your final paper an organic look and feel.
When making home-made paper it is very important to realize that no matter how hard you try, your paper will not be perfect, super-smooth or bright white. The good news is: it doesn’t matter! Those little flaws and bumps are part of the beauty of making homemade plantable paper. Plus, every sheet you make will be 100% original.
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Obviously, using random paper scraps of various materials and colors can create some interesting – and some not so interesting – colors. But if you select your paper carefully, you can come pretty close to any color you choose except pure white and jet black. These two colors cannot be created without the use of special pulping paper found at specialty papermaking outlets. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t create an off white or ivory paper using only recycled paper. If you want something close to white, choose only white or ivory paper scraps. The same is true for black, although all-black paper is harder to find.
While mixing up a batch of white or purple paper seems pretty straightforward, choosing the papers to blend together to achieve a particular color is not always so obvious. What happens if you mix black and white newspaper with orange construction paper? How about cardboard and egg cartons with green tissue paper? No matter how hard you try, there are bound to be a few “everything but the kitchen sink” moments where your paper turns an icky grey or putrid purple color.
Thankfully, papermaking is a forgiving craft. Should you wind up with a color that reminds you of the Slug That Ate New York, adding a good dose of white paper will often save the day. Better yet, avoid the dreaded slug altogether by referring to the following tips on how to blend colors and you’ll be whipping up the perfect shades in no time.
Mixing the Perfect Color
It might surprise you to learn that every color known to mankind comes from three simple colors: red, blue and yellow. These are known as primary colors. When primary colors are mixed together in various combinations they create what are known as secondary colors such as violet, green, and orange.
- Red + Blue = Violet
- Blue + Yellow = Green
- Yellow + Red = Orange
By mixing these six colors together in various combinations, twelve tertiary (or “in-between”) colors can be made as follows:
- Red + Violet = Red-Violet
- Violet + Blue = Blue-Violet
- Blue + Green = Blue-Green
- Green + Yellow = Yellow-Green
- Yellow + Orange = Yellow-Orange
- Orange + Red = Red-Orange
These twelve colors alone can create hundreds of new colors and with the addition of one or more of the three neutrals, black, white and grey (which are not considered true colors) those colors can be endlessly toned and shaded. Of course, white lightens and brightens any color, while black darkens and deepens it. Grey is a combination of white and black and it is used to mute and soften.
By following these simple guidelines using scraps of paper that are complementary to one another, you will be able to create an endless variety of tones and shades for your special seeded papers.
I’ll be back next week with part three of this series to show you how to turn your beautiful hand-crafted paper into a work of art using a wide array of found items such as string, confetti, dried flowers, herbs, and yes, seeds!
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© Jill Henderson
Learn how to grow and use the world’s oldest, safest, and most medicinal herbs with this easy step-by-step guide! From starting seeds to preparing home remedies, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs is a treasured resource that you will turn to time and time again.
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 among other publications and videos.
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