When I was a kid, I wanted to do two things in my life:
1) Be a writer.
2) Save the world from environmental destruction.

Both dreams were encouraged by my family: notepads, pens, and books for Dream One and various environmental and science-y gifts for Dream Two. I got environmental test kits, books about saving the environment, and craft projects where I could reuse objects and make new things.

I had a kit to make recycled paper which I loved. The whole thing originally involved ruining a blender, messing up the family basement, and drenching a bunch of towels but I came up with some nice recycled paper. In my stage of being too cool for crafting which coincided with a series of moves, the kit disappeared. Bummer.

The good news is I think I've come up with an easier (and less messy) method based on the kit and my life experience. Finally something to do with all the paper waiting to be recycled in my basement! (I apologize for a lack of photos; the digital camera is still in the process of being replaced.)

Materials:
a small section of screen (you can buy about a yard of it cut at your local hardware store for less then $2)
blender
bucket
water
paper (I recommend 1:2 newspaper, regular paper ratio. Used at least a few bits of colored paper to make things interesting. Remember to use every piece of paper on both sides first before recylcing it!)
scissors and/or paper shredder
old towels
sponge

Coffee with a kick (insert Irish creme, coffee brandy, etc. here)

1. The day before you craft, go to the hardware store and confidently acquire any screen you don't have. If you've been doing Too Cute Tuesday for awhile, the folks at your neighborhood store should know you by now and may ask what you are up to. (Note get hard screen, which is easier to work with though a soft screen works in a pinch or if you accidentally order the wrong kind like I did.)

2. Get home and shred paper while doing something mindless, like watching a television show or listening to the radio. You can use your hands, scissors, a paper shredder, or a combination of both. You want your paper pieces to be small. Put the pieces in a bucket.

3. Add water to the bucket until it is lightly covering the pieces of paper. Put somewhere where a child, animal, or clumsy adult can't knock it over and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. (This is an optional step but allows your blender to work less hard later in addition to helping get some of the ink out of the paper you are using.)

4. Day 2: You are ready to craft! Brew some coffee (though if after 6 pm, perhaps a decaf would make more sense).

5. Gather supplies you need in a central location near a water source while the coffee is being made.

6. Add Irish creme or coffee brandy to your coffee. As the nights get cooler, your little warm cocktail will help you relax… and craft!

7. Put paper from bucket into blender. A slotted spoon will help the transfer. See the grey water? Your paper will be less grey from the soaking.

8. Put fresh water in the blender with your paper and blend. It'll look disgusting but that's how you know it's right.

9. Put an old towel down with your screen on top. Spoon your paper sludge evenly onto the screen surface. Put more screen on top and blot with sponge, wringing out the water periodically. You want to get your pulp as flat as possible; don't worry about smooth edges. (Note, you will go through an insane amount of towels if you aren't so good at letting the water drain from the pulp before spreading it on the screen.)

9a. Dealing with all this cold wet paper, allow yourself to warm yourself up with coffee beverage. Ah.

10. Once much of the excess water is off, transfer the "paper" from the screen onto a dry towel someplace where it can dry safely.

11. Repeat for as many sheets of paper as you like. Let paper dry overnight.

12. Day 3: Once paper is dry, you can trim the edges with scissors.

A multi-day project, sure. A little water logged definitely but that's what the coffee with a kick is for! The whole thing is, however, pretty low tech and a great thing to do with kids so they understand what is means to recycle paper. Plus you can send pretty notes to your friends on your fancy paper while you drink your Irish Coffee. Talk about warm wishes!

Happy crafting, especially if it's for the earth.

Our first in-person workshop in 2+ years is happening September 24!

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