Paper making

Lesson Plan - Sheets of Decorated Hand-Made Paper



    • commercial paper pulp

    • 3 screening frames

    • 3 pans each 5" high to hold screening frames

    • 1 or 2 food blenders & extension cords (?)

    • book press and 2 boards

    • old iron to press dry paper sheets flat

    • hot water from tap

    • 1-2 Elmer's glue (if decorative items fall off dry paper)

    • finished examples of hand made paper

    • candle scent of perfume (optional)

    • food colorant

    • newspaper for covering work surface


    • art shirts

    • name tags

    • small items to decorate

      • glitter

      • yarn

      • ribbon

General Concept-

Making decorated sheets of paper by hand provides the opportunities to learn about some select historical high-lights of paper making, the tools, materials and procedures or paper making and ways to embellish the paper sheets.

Specific Concept (historical)-

Paper had been made around the world by various groups of people using local materials and processes.

    1. The Egyptians (2200BC) were the first to make paper from the center of the papyrus plant growing along the banks of the Nile.

    2. In 105AD, Ts' ai Lun of China invented paper from mulberry, other tree barks, hmp and rags.

    3. Bark paper was invented in Mexico and South America by the Mayan Indians in 500AD.

    4. The first United States paper mill was set up in Pennsylvania in 1690.

    5. By the 1850's paper was used in the US for: boxes, cups, washbowls, barrels, tabletops, handkerchiefs raincoats, slippers, curtains, carpets, buttons, slips, wrappings for objects, etc.

Specific Concept (process)-

Tools and equipment for producing hand-made paper can be assembled or made from available sources. The process utilizes specific vocabulary.

    1. Screening Frames: Composing the two parts of 1. the smaller frame covered with metal, cloth or plastic mesh fits inside 2. the larger outside frame that is made size of the desired sheet of paper. Usually made of hard wood and varnished.

    2. Deckle: This larger frame produces the ragged or deckled edge to the paper. The deckle is removed before the couching process.

    3. Frame: The small frame with the screen stapled across the opening. The screen collects the wet paper pulp and allows the excess water to drain back into the vat of paper pulp.

    4. Blender: The food blender prepares the pulp. Fill the blender with 1/4-1/3 cup pulp and hot water. Run blender on fast speed for 45-60 second. Keep repeating this 3-4 times. The pulp should stay suspended in the water for proper mixing. Do not allow water from the blender to leak into the motor: wipe and dry.

    5. Vat: A large high-sided pan or kettle which holds the blended pulp mixture. The screening frame fits in this vat of pulp.

    6. Dipping the screening frame: With the deckle on top, submerge the screening frame in the pulp vat. Raise the screen straight up (i.e., flat or horzontal), allowing the excess water to drain back into the vat.

    7. Couching: In this process, the screening frame full of wet pulp is slowly turned over the blanket (felt), gently pressed, and slowly lifted from one side to release the paper sheet from the screen frame.

    8. Decorating and pressing the sheets: In a classroom setting the paper s decorated at this point. Small pieces of glitter yarn, sequins, etc. are laid on top, scent or coloring added with the brush by individual students. The embellishing sheet is carried to the book press on the felt.

        1. Make a "sandwich" as follows:

      1. press board

      2. newspaper pad

      3. top felt

      4. sheet of decorated paper

      5. bottom felt

      6. newspaper pad

      7. press board

      8. Insert the sandwich in press. Turn the press handle to squeeze the excess water. At this time, the decorative bits are pressed into the paper.

    1. Drying the paper sheets: Remove boards, throw away wet paper. If possible allow paper to dry on felt or carefully transfer the wet paper to a fry newspaper by turning the felt over the top of the newspaper. Dry where air circulate.

VIOLA! A hand-made sheet of paper.