How Do You Make Homemade Watercolor Paper For Environmentally Friendly Artists?

By Alina Bradford

homemade watercolor paperMaking homemade watercolor paper from scrap paper has several advantages. First, it is good for the environment. Every time paper is recycled, trees are saved and less garbage takes up space in landfills. Second, it saves money. Watercolor paper made from recycled materials can be expensive. Making paper at home costs pennies per sheet. Third, the artist can customize the sheet to match their needs. The artist can make the paper rough, smooth, tinted or textured. To take advantage of these benefits, follow the directions for making paper, below.

Gathering Materials

Several items are needed to make homemade paper.

First, crafter should decide how big they want their finished paper and then purchase a window screen that is the dimensions of the desired paper sheet. Window screens can be purchased at a home improvement or hardware stores. If a pre-made window screen can’t be found, a roll of window screen can be purchased and stapled to a picture frame with a staple gun to get the same effect.

recycled paper by Michal ZacharzewskiThe crafter will also need:

  • A blender
  • Large bowl
  • 2 thin boards (cut to the same dimension as the window screen)
  • Large area to work such as bathtub, sink or a large tub (If a sink or bathtub is used, make sure that there is a strainer placed over the drain to prevent pipe clogs.)
  • Large sheets of cardboard
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Choosing Scrap Paper
  • Plant parts for added texture (optional)

Since the finished paper will be used for fine art purposes, only scrap paper that is acid-free should be used, such as:

  • Paper that is gathered from old sketchbooks
  • Trimmings from cropped sheets of watercolor paper
  • Acid-free computer paper
  • Ruined watercolor paintings

Making the Paper

  1. Tear the paper to be recycled into small bits no bigger than 1”X1” and put in the large bowl.
  2. Cover with warm water and soak for four hours.
  3. Put one handful of paper into the blender and fill the blender halfway with water.
  4. Add food coloring to tint the color of the pulp.
  5. Mix at a fast blender speed.
  6. Pour pulp evenly over the window screen until it is covered. This may take several blender-fulls of pulp, depending on the size of the window screen. A thicker layer of pulp will create a thicker, more absorbent sheet of paper. A thinner layer of pulp will create a smoother, but more delicate sheet. If you are using plant parts, lay them onto the screen before covering it with pulp.
  7. After the window screen is covered, the pulp should be presses by sandwiching the screen between the two boards and applying pressure. The more pressure that is applied, the thinner and smoother the paper will be.
  8. Flip the window screen onto a large piece of cardboard and press on the back of the screen to release the sheet of paper.
  9. Leave homemade paper on the cardboard to dry. The length of drying time varies depending on how warm and dry the air around it is.

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