Papermaking at your doorstep

Although papermaking has traditionally been located in urban settings, technological innovations brought about by an NGO brings a new trade to the rural backyards. Here's a do-it-yourself formula for making recycled paper at home

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Reams of paper drying out (Credit: Arvind Yadav / CSE)HANDMADE paper or recycled paper is in hot demand these days as wood for the paper industry is becoming a scarce resource. IRED-Forum, No 54, brought out by a Geneva-based NGO, Development Innovations and Networks, offers a simple and easy method to make recycled paper at home.

For papermaking, one needs newspaper and other waste paper, water, buckets, tubs, small glass jars with lids, several bricks, egg beater, blender, a flat frame with stainless steel wire mesh stretched over it, called a mould. Two boards larger than the mould, a deckle (a frame that fits on top of the mould and is used to fix the size of the paper) and a cotton cloth larger than the deckle complete the list.

The first step requires collection and sorting of paper, if papers of different colours are to be made. All accessories such as staples, pins and sticky tape are to be removed. The paper is cut into small squares measuring 4 cm x 4 cm and soaked in water 12 hours in advance. A handful of the soaked paper is then blended with a lot of water and the pulp is poured into a pillow case.

To check the pulp quality, a little amount is poured into a small jar and held against light. If a large number of unbroken fibres are found, then the pulp should be beaten again. Water is then added to the pulp in the ratio of 500 gms of pulp to five litres of water. The paper press is made out by placing wet foam, felt or newspaper on the boards and covered with cloth.

Once the suitable consistency is achieved for the mixture, it is stirred again. Then the pulp is scooped onto the mould by placing the mould and the deckle vertically at the bottom of the tub. The contraption is then turned till it becomes horizontal and quickly pulled out of the water. To lace the fibres together it has to be shaken gently. Later, excess water is removed by tilting the mould sideways and the deckle removed without touching the pulp.

This wet paper is then overturned onto the press carefully. One side of the mould is held on to the edge of the press and the other side is slowly brought down in one continuous movement till it lies flat on the press. The four sides of the mould are at first gently pressed and then very carefully lifted off. The entire paper should stay on the press, otherwise, the whole process beginning from dipping the mould into the mixture step, will have to be repeated.

Once the excess water runs off, the press is laid on several layers of newspaper or directly on the ground. For a smooth finish, the wet paper can be laid out on a glass window pane or a door, facing the sun. The drying process takes about six to 24 hours depending on the weather conditions and voila! your homemade recycled paper is ready.

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