Monday, June 22, 2009

Pure genius: Up-cycled, Re-cycled, "Green" - Creating your own beautiful hand-made paper?!

Do you accumulate tons of junk mail every day, week, month? Wouldn't it be great to transform your 'tons' of garbage paper to a new and usable, artsy/crafty form right in your home? Many people are going "green" these days, and are using their creative energy to do just that! The concept......Handmade Paper (making)! There are many uses for handmade papers: invitations, one-of-a-kind note cards, sending a hand written letter on personal stationary, scrapbook paper, even putting it behind glass/frame and hanging it on your wall!
The key to success you ask: Quality of the paper used to form the pulp. You want to ensure a nice, lustrous finish as an end product. Newspaper is a no-no, the chemicals in newspaper and the ink form a foamy sludge in the creation process and results in a muddy looking sheet with poor quality.
For best results, combine a recycled base with equal amounts of abaca or cotton pulp. This can be purchased in semi-processed form for use in your own blender!

Michelle Bierman is a creator of handmade paper, and is currently building her website (coming soon) : www.michelleshandmadepaper.com, and is from Minnesota. I had a chance to do an email interview with her about the process of paper making, what she creates and how she got started in this creative art form.

Why make your own creative handmade paper?
MB: I actually make a unique paper that many companies use to create awards for their employees. In other words, instead of a certificate or plaque, we will emboss a company logo or silk screen handmade paper.

What type of fibers/materials do you use for paper making?
MB: Mostly Cotton, but for my own paper projects, I use a variety of materials.

Where do you get these fibers or where do you buy them?
MB: I order recycled cotton from a papermaking company. If I am making paper for a project, I have used paper, construction paper, napkins, newspaper, and even turned my students' homework into paper.

What type of mold do you use? What is it made of?
MB: Many type of molds. I use screens, silicon, plastic, and for embossing metal plates.

After you've pressed the paper layers together, what is the next step?
MB: I dry it, and roll it in a press for embossing.

After the paper is dried, is that it or is there more?
MB: I often emboss it, silk screen, or even paint on it.

What do you do with your handmade paper?
MB: Projects, and then most of my business is corporate awards.

What type/kind of artist do you like to be called/considered?
MB: A papermaker

Do you sell your paper or crafts made from the paper?
MB: Sometimes, but most of my projects are wholesale use.

Any tips/techniques you can provide for trials/errors you've learned from, let us know.
MB: Just play around. There are many techniques you can use. And, take a paper class. They can be lots of fun!

Like Michelle says, it can be lots of fun to experiment with making beautiful hand-made paper. Try it sometime, you might get hooked!
For questions, you can reach Michelle by email: michellebierman@gmail.com.

Article contributed by: StoneyMistDesign

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