Here’s a simple, green craft project to do with your kids. Or make it on your own and always have a supply of eco-friendly, homemade paper on hand for cards, party favors, or just for fun.
- Recyclable paper, e.g. junk mail, printer paper, construction paper. Avoid shiny magazine pages and mail inserts. Remember the colors will blend.
- Large bowl
- Immersion blender or hand mixer
- Food coloring (optional)
- Baking pan or other large, flat-bottomed container
- Embroidery hoop
- Piece of screen (as from an old window screen) large enough to cover the embroidery hoop
- Old bath towel (be aware that if you use food coloring, the towel may get stained)
- Flower or herb seeds and mixes (see hints for ideas)
- Wax paper or foil
Steps for Making Seed Paper:
1. Tear the recyclable paper into strips or pieces and soak it in warm water until mushy. This could take several hours, so you could plan to soak it for a day or two. The more days you let it soak, the better it will break down into a pulp.
2. When the paper is completely saturated, put it in the bowl and add two cups of water. Blend until the paper is the consistency of oatmeal, adding more water if necessary. Things can get a little messy during blending, so mix the pulp outdoors or in a utility sink or bathtub; any area you don’t mind getting wet.
3. If using, add food coloring and blend again until the desired color is achieved.
4. Cut a piece of the screen a 1/2 inch larger than the embroidery hoop. Secure the screen in the embroidery hoop, bending the screen as needed to get a snug fit. If using a metal screen be careful of sharp edges.
5. Add a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan and pour in the pulp mix. Make sure the pulp and water mix is spread evenly in the pan.
6. Now you are ready to make paper. Scoop the embroidery hoop with the screen under the pulp mix or spoon it on top of the screen until it’s covered evenly.
7. Lift the screen from the water and let it drain for a minute before placing it on the bath towel.
8. Allow the towel to soak up water from the pulp until it’s firm (though it won’t be completely dry). This stage can take several hours, or even overnight, if the pulp is thick.
9. Flip semi-dried pulp gently onto wax paper. To do this, first gently lift a few inches of the edge of the paper from the frame. Then, using a butter or icing knife, lift the paper from underneath to pry it carefully from the screen.
10. If the texture from the screen is obvious, lay a piece of wax paper over the paper and very gently flatten the paper with a rolling pin. Lift the top layer of wax paper and allow the paper to finish drying, up to a day.
11. Once completely dry, you can cut your seed paper into fun shapes and write or decorate with markers. If you plan on mailing your card, make sure it’s sized to fit the envelope you’ll be using.
12. To apply seeds, place a drop of white craft glue on the paper and place a seed. Keep in mind that the larger seeds you use, the further apart they should be placed to allow room for each seed to germinate properly. Also keep in mind that large seeds may not mail as well as small seeds. If your plan is to mail a card in an envelope, you’ll want to use small seeds.
13. To plant, lay the paper on the soil, sprinkle about 1/4 of an inch of dirt on top, and keep watered. Paper can be planted straight in the garden, in containers, or in pots for indoor growing.
14. Once seedlings are about 2-inches tall they can be separated and transplanted to give the plants room to develop more fully.
- Choose seeds that are quick to germinate. Annuals like zinnias and cosmos for flowers or herbs like basil and dill.
- Use one sort of seed or try one of these mixes:
Spaghetti sauce: Basil, parsley, thyme
Salsa mix: chives, cilantro, parsley
Pickle: dill, chives
Wedding flowers: sweet alyssum, chamomile, Queen Anne’s lace
Celebration bouquet: Zinnias, cornflower, Shasta daisy
Butterfly garden: Sunflower, zinnia, cosmos
Want to try another project that’s always a hit with kids? Try our finger-painted terracotta pot project. You’ll end up with a great place to plant that seed paper!