Friday, May 6, 2011

Handmade Paper from Jeans

I was inspired by a post over at Dollar Store Crafts about making paper from dryer lint.  How amazing is that?  I remembered making paper from old jeans and t-shirts in art class way back in high school.  I love the feel and texture of homemade paper, so I decided to follow her lead and recreate my own version using jeans.  Let's just say, Melinda's version is a lot simpler...

We must have had an industrial strength blender at the school, because I had a hard time shredding my jeans.  I didn't want to ruin another blender (my husband tends to get upset when I ruin appliances in the name of art), so I had to use my food processor that I designated only for crafts.  I love that baby.  She is a whiz at grating soap and crayons, so I had to see how she fared with jean material.

Let's say she didn't pass muster. 

I couldn't get the dry denim to shred.  I put a few ice cubes in with it and that worked a little.  Finally, I decided to wet down the jean strips and freeze them.  That worked the best, but I still had to stop the food processor repeatedly and clean the graters.  I ended up using scissors and cut small snippets from the material. 

The kids enjoyed this a lot.  They were amazed at tearing jeans into shreds.  They loved chopping up napkins in a blender.  Not to mention that we got to play with water!  It was a fun activity, just remember there might be an easier way to get similar results.

SO if you are still with me and just have to try your hand at reusing that old pair of jeans, here is what you will need:
  • an old pair of jeans, cut into small rectangles or squares
  • napkins from restaurants-  we happened to have a menagerie from Subway and McDonald's
  • blender or food processor
  • water
  • old window screen
Here is what you do:
  1. We shredded the jeans using a blender and scissors.  I found I had a lot better results using the scissors.  Let me know if you have a better method.
  2. We pureed the napkins into tiny particles. 
  3. We mixed jeans and napkin materials together and added water.  We let them sit for awhile.
  4. I poured out the mixture onto an old window screen.  I wanted the fibers to stand out, but if you want a finer grade of paper you can whirl them again in the blender.
  5. I pressed out the excess water and let the paper mass dry.  It took about 24 hours to set up.
  6. I removed the paper from the screen and let the children create bookmarks for their Mother's Day gifts.  We cut out rectangles, added stickers, and string.  They thought this was pretty fun when they realized we had "made" this paper the other day.

Here is our finished project.  I really wish I would have thought ahead and purchased flower seeds to incorporate in our paper.  They would be reusable and act as a seed mat.  I don't know if it would work, but I think it would be a lot of fun to give sproutable paper or bookmarks.  The kids loved it and I hope their mother's will appreciate their efforts.

I am including a link to Dollar Store Crafts' post on making paper from dryer lint.  She has some tips that I wish I would have paid closer attention to.  I would probably add a little cornstarch or fabric starch to the jean paper to make it sturdier.  You can find Melinda's post here for Dryer Lint Paper.

9 comments:

Leslie said...

You might be a bit crazy, but my bookmark is pretty cool anyway.

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