Creating Handmade Paper Pulp in Your Kitchen
Creating handmade paper pulp for the end purpose of casting it into molds can be done cheaply, quickly and with almost no mess right in your kitchen.
You will need:
A blender - You can get a blender at the thrift store or garage sale but if you have one already sitting in the back corner of your cupboard that you never use why not put it into service. I have only burned out two blenders in more than 15 years.
Scrap paper - For the purposes of casting paper, as opposed to pulp for making sheets, you will be more successful and get better results if you avoid using a lot of fibrous plant materials and additives such as seeds, grasses and glitter and flower pedals. You can make very good casting pulp from scrap mat board that you can get from frame shops. Most scrap papers other than newspaper or magazines is useable.
Molds and forms - These can be simple to elaborate designs but should have only very shallow undercuts if any at all. You can make your own molds or you can use cookie, candy and gelatin molds as well as other objects such as platters and serving trays with designs etched or embossed in them.
Sponges and towels - Get the big car washing sponges. It is helpful to keep several bath towels at hand that can also be acquired at garage sales or thrift stores.
Step 1- Soak the Paper Scrap
Fill your sink with hot water and tear up your paper into 1-2 inch squares and leave to soak until the paper is saturated. If you are using mat board and want a solid white casting paper, soak the larger pieces and the color part will float off leaving you with the white core to use for pulping. Just remember that whatever color you use to make your pulp will provide the same color in a lighter shade after pulping. Soaking paper can take anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple hours.
Step 2 - Pulp the Paper Scrap
Gather a medium handful of soaked paper and put it in your blender. Fill your blender with cool water, put on the lid and start it up at the lowest level. Work your way up to the puree setting and let it run for about 30 seconds to one minute. If you hear your blender balking and straining you may have to dump off some of the pulp into a bowl and top off your blender with additional water. Your end product should have the consistency of thin oatmeal or thick cream of wheat. Dump the contents of your blender into a bowl or bucket and continue making more pulp if needed. The amount of pulp depends on the size of your project.
Step 3 - Drain Pulp
Prior to filling your mold you will need to drain excess water from the pulp. A strainer lined with a thin fabric that can easily allow water to drain through works well. If you don’t line the strainer you will lose a lot of your pulp down the drain. Do not press down on or squeeze the pulp. Dump the pulp back into your bowl or bucket. You want your pulp to have a thick wet consistency.
Step 4 - Fill the Mold
Most molds do not need to be coated with any kind of release agent however now and then you might find that a particular mold sticks and you may have to coat it in the future with a very thin layer of mineral oil, cooking spray or Vaseline. Gently pick up handfuls of wet pulp and fill the mold. Press down the pulp with a sponge and squeeze out the water continuing to add more pulp and press out more water until the mold is full.
Step 5 - Dry and Release
Let your filled mold dry completely then gently wiggle and lift the paper casting until it releases.
Making your own molds for casting paper is easy and allows you more individual creativity.
Processing plant fibers is a little more labor intensive and not really appropriate for blenders.
These projects are perfect for a hot summer day and dry quickly in the sun. You can also dry these projects in a warm oven in the winter provided you are using molds that won't melt in the oven or sitting near your wood stove.