My son is a prolific scribbler and artist, but not every sketch or story is worth saving. So we end up with lots of paper for the recycling bin.
Rather than tossing it all out, I decided to use it to make scented homemade paper, which I turned into pretty bookmarks.
The readers on your gift list will enjoy getting one of these handmade paper bookmarks tucked into the pages of a new novel.
You can also use the handmade paper to make gift tags, note cards, pretty wraps for homemade soap, or scrapbook layouts.
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Supplies to Make Handmade Paper
- Scrap paper, envelopes or newspapers
- Dried lavender buds
- water-based paint (optional)
- 2 mesh splatter screens, a papermaking mold or 2 frames with window screening stapled to them
- large plastic container
- plastic spatula
- absorbent towels
- rolling pin
- hole punch
How to Make Scented Handmade Paper
Begin by tearing old newspaper, envelopes and paper into small pieces, no bigger than an inch.
Place the paper scraps a blender, preferably one that will not be used for food. (I keep a “craft blender” in my garage for mixing paint and projects like this. I found it at a yard sale for $3.)
Cover the paper with hot water. You’ll need about twice as much water as paper.
While the paper scraps are softening, fill a shallow plastic storage container with about two inches of water. The bin should be big enough so that your splatter screen or papermaking mold fits inside.
Pulse the paper in the blender until it becomes a pulp. If necessary, add more water.
Add lavender buds or dried flowers and blend until combined. If you like, you can also add some water-based craft paint to tint your paper.
I have to give a shout-out to One Good Thing by Jillee for the idea of using splatter screens as a papermaking mold. I was going to make my own with some old frames and window screen from the hardware store. But then I saw her genius idea to use the readymade splatter guards instead. Definitely worked for me.
She uses a slightly different method for getting the paper pulp on the screens then I did. You might want to try them both out to see which one works best for you.
Since I was working with a larger container, it worked best for me to submerge one of the mesh screens into the storage bin filled with water.
Then, I carefully poured the wet paper pulp from the blender over the submerged screen, aiming for even coverage.
Carefully lift the screen up through the water, shaking and leveling as you do so to spread the pulp thinly and evenly over the screen. Imagine that you’re panning for gold!
If the paper is too clumpy or there are too many bare spots, you can resubmerge the screen in water and try again. You may also gently use a wet rubber spatula to smooth and even the paper pulp on the screen. Be careful; the spatula may lift the pulp off the screen.
Transfer the screen to an absorbent towel or a microfiber dish-drying mat. Top it with the second screen and use a sponge or rolling pin to press as much water as possible from the paper. (I used both methods.)
You may have to use several towels and go over the screens multiple times. A thick, folded bath towel works well because it absorbs a lot. You want to remove as much water as possible to hasten drying time.
Remove the top screen and set the paper aside to dry. If it’s a hot, sunny day and you’ve done a good job squeezing the water out of the paper, it should be dry in a couple of hours. Then you can gently peel the paper off the screen. It helps to tap the screen from the underside and work from the edges when removing the paper.
You can hasten the drying time by putting the wet paper and screen on a baking sheet in a 250-degree oven. Just make sure your splatter screen does not have any plastic components and be careful when handling it. The metal handle and ring will be hot!
Drying times will vary, depending on how much moisture was in the paper. Don’t try to remove it from the screen until it is completely dry, as it may tear.
Once you’ve removed the dried paper from the screen, use scissors or a paper cutter to trim it into thin rectangular strips. Add a hole to the top of each bookmark and thread with pretty ribbon.
You can also glue a strip of grosgrain ribbon down the center of a bookmark for an even fancier presentation.
While I used lavender buds to scent my handmade paper bookmarks, you can add other dried flowers, herbs or citrus peels to your paper.
For an even stronger fragrance, you can spritz the bookmarks with perfume or essential oils. You could even experiment with mixing essential oils into the paper pulp. But I’d be careful about drying them in the sun or oven because the scent might dissipate.