In Girl Scouts we're learning about using energy wisely and reducing our carbon footprints, so for a fun activity, we decided to recycle some garbage into paper. It was a great project and required little more than some trash, a blender and a dackle.
What is a dackle you ask? Great question!
A dackle is a wood frame with a fine mesh attached to one side. It is used to filter the paper pulp from the water and strain it. It is the main tool you will need for paper making. It can be purchased from a craft store or made, easily at home using an old picture frame, some window screening and some staples.
So, first things first. Collect your garbage and tear it up into pieces small enough to fit into a blender.
We used everything from old magazines and mail to cardboard boxes and a Starbucks coffee cup and napkins. Just be sure that there is no food residue in your recycled garbage so your paper doesn't become a bug magnet!
The girls enjoyed tearing apart the trash.
If you decide to use stronger garbage like cardboard, make sure you tear it up and soak it in warm water for about 30 minutes before you are ready to use it. This will make it easier to blend.
Now you can fill your blender with some garbage and warm water. Put on your lid and blend away! The end result will look like soupy oatmeal. Yuck!
Next, pour your soupy oatmeal paper mixture (your "pulp") into a large basin and add more water. If you don't like the color of your pulp, you can add some dye or food coloring. We added some red to get a pink paper, then later, some blue to the pink to make purple paper.
Once you have this super watery pulp concoction ready, get out a whisk or a spoon and prepare to stir it a bit before you dip your dackle!
Now, take your dackle, mesh on top, and lower it into the pulp water. Slowly shimmy it back and forth in the water a bit and s-l-o-w-l-y lift it from the water, keeping it horizontal to distribute the pulp evenly . This is what you should get- a thin layer of pulp on the screen. IF it's too thick, you may need to add more water to your mixture and redid your dackle.
Transfer your dackle to a table covered with an old dry table cloth or newspapers to absorb the excess water, and lay it, pulp-side down, on the table cloth/newspaper.
Press a sponge or an old rag onto the mesh to sop up as much of the water as you are able. Then, carefully lift the dackle to reveal your pretty, wet paper! If it tears a bit, you can piece it back together with your fingers or even add some pulp to a hole if needed.
If you like, you can add some embellishments like glitter, circles from your hole puncher, or paper cutouts like my Girl Scouts did here. Do this by either pressing them into your paper once they have been laid out to dry, or by placing them in the water and catching them on the screen of the dackle as you strain the pulp.
Set out your paper to dry over night. You can place it outside under sunlight, but that could bleach out some of the color that you have created in your paper.
Once your paper has dried, they will easily peel from the table cloth without sticking or tearing. They will, however, have a less-than-flat appearance once they are dry. You can fix that easily by giving them a quick press with an iron.
The end result, this pretty speckled artisan paper made from garbage that is now ready for it's new life as whatever your imagination desires!