Jul 16, 2009

Paper making?

The title has a question mark because this isn't something that I had planned to do and truthfully it could also be entitled "How to make your back yard look like an explosion in the Kirkland toilet roll factory".

So, my younger daughter, who is three, has been fine going to the toilet all by herself for a while... until this week. Three days in a row I have gone to check on her after she's been in there a little too long and found her splashing in the sink quite delightedly with a load of soaking wet bogroll. You can't blame her for thinking it's really really cool. I mean the tactile squelchiness of it is brilliant, but after sneaking off three times to do this quietly until I found her and cleaned it all up I kinda figured we might have to take this activity outside and let it run it's course before our bathroom sink is irreprably blocked and she starts to think that she has to hide from me if she wants to play with squelchy stuff.

I got out the big plastic storage box from the garage and we put about six inches of water in it, then the kids decimated a toilet roll and made a vat of pulp to play with. Spatulas from the kitchen for stirring and a fold away table on the side for splatting and squeezing out the water from the pulp.

That kept them entertained for a while, then I started to wonder if we could make a sheet of paper with this almighty mess.

I didn't have screens, or the willingness to leave the kids alone with the vat of pulp for any length of time (someone had already tried throwing a wad of it at her sister), so I figured the closest thing that might do the job was the ancient decrepid laundry sack inside the garage door.

I put it ontop of one side of the vat for a while for them to experiment straining the pulp with, and then we tried pushing it to the bottom of the tub and pulling up a sheet of pulp. It kinda worked. Ish.
I think we had a bit too much paper in the water, because it came up with a very thick sheet that is still drying a day and a half later, but the kids thought it was cool and wanted to do it again, so we made two big sheets. We tipped them out onto one of the old bed sheets that we use for painting, so they could dry in the sun.
I left the tub out overnight thinking they would probably want to play with it more the next day. Before we went to play with it again I tried to make them some more normal screens than the giant unweildy laundry sack that took all three of us to use.

I have a couple of packs of Ikea frames that I have been meaning to put photos in and not got around to, so I used one of those packs for the wooden frames (I think they were $5 for the pack of three) Bet there would be a decent frame in the dollarstore for this too though. I used a really old reel of tulle that I got from Savers a while back to make tutus. That came in a bag with some other sewing stuff for 99cents. All I did was cut the tulle and staple it over the frames to make screens. I'm not sure what material you are supposed to use for making screens, but this seemed to work fine.
I am the lady that saves even the ripped bits of tissue paper from gifts, because it might be useful for a kid craft one day, so we had a little stash of tissue paper handy to try and make the paper more interesting this time.

The kids ripped up the tissue paper and squelched it into the pulp that was still in the tub. This made the pulp go a nice shade of pink. Ooooh! Princess paper! I got out some of the black or dark coloured felt from my sewing gear to turn out the paper onto, because I wasn't sure if the tissue paper in the pulp would cause it to stain things.

They knew what the score was with how to make the paper after we did it the day before, so they had no trouble pulling up a few sheets. They weren't overly obsessed with putting the sheets out to dry though, so we only ended up with a few finished dry ones. They were more interested in playing with pulling up the screens full and then rinsing them off. Or once they tipped out the paper onto the bits of felt they wanted to scrape them back off and put the pulp back in the vat again. I wish it was socially acceptable for me to wear a hunormously mahoosive blue ballerina tutu for the hell of it, whilst going about my day.

Here's a pic of one of the freshly turned out pulp sheets before we sandwiched it between two bits of felt and squeezed out the water fully.
We were all very impatient, especially after the giant sheets hadn't dried overnight, so I put a pile of the little princess papers stacked up with felt inbetween in the microwave and that dried them out in five minutes, so the kids could draw on them right away.Yes, that's right from one toilet roll, all that mess and mayhem later and we had made.... da da daaaaa.... *Pink* toilet roll. I'm going to pretend that I can't hear you laughing at me.I'm off out into the yard now to strain the rest of the pulpy mess through the laundry sack, so I can mix it with some flour and make some paper clay for them to use tomorrow. I'll let you know if that is just as unfathomably messy.


  1. Kids do love making a mess with their toilet paper! Making your own paper making frames is such a great idea. So obvious and yet I would not have thought of it! I have a kit from when I was a kid but I like this better. You could make different sizes.

    Thank you for this great blog! I check it regularly and am very inspired for projects for my own daughters.

    From Glenyce in country Victoria, Australia

  2. That is so funny!! Looks like they had a lot of fun, and I'm glad to see you're not afraid of the mess.

    My girls and I did something recently that reminded me of something you would do with your girls...

    1 Second Time Machine

    Come visit for a few good laughs!

  3. Wow. Every time I read your blog I'm amazed and inspired - brilliant stuff. Thanks indeed for the smiles I get reading about your adventures.

    Birmingham UK

  4. What an amazing idea! Not only do you come up with the MOST fabulous craft ideas but you really are my morning coffee. As soon as I get to work my first line of procrastination after reading emails is reading your blog. You are so creative and so funny! BTW I live in Rio de Janeiro and often forward your amazing ideas to other mommy friends in Brazil.

  5. could you actually draw on the pink paper you made? that is sooo cool! we are so doing this!

  6. Valerie, I love the time machine! We have a couple of busted keyboards under the desk right now. Sounds like a plan!

    and yep, the kids could draw on the paper we made. Carefully we felt tip pens/markers, but it was really good with stamps and a stamp pad.

  7. I absolutely LOVE this craft. I may have to satisfy my urges to play with squelchy crazy tubs of toilet paper with my husband!

  8. I love that this was your reaction to your 3yo daughter's mess. The princess paper looks very pretty, I also save torn tissue paper for crafting with kids.

    I'm curious to hear how the paper clay turned out...

  9. What a great idea!!! I have recently found your blog and I LOVE it!!!! You have such wonderful ideas and I can't wait to make some of your play-doh creations. I have bookmarked a ton of your posts:)

  10. This is so timely. I want to make paper!! I just need to get some screen. It's on "the list." Bookmarking this great how-to post AND subbing to your cute blog. I love messy activities!

  11. This looks like fun :)

    If you don't want to microwave your paper, you could also iron it and that will make it nice and flat. Also, if you didn't have the frames handy, you can use an embroidery hoop instead.

    If you wanted to make some more paper, you might like to think about putting seeds in the mix. Then you could sent a home made birthday card or whatever that could be planted and sprout flowers! :)

    Love the blog, thank you for sharing. I am really taken with Dino island and the other play dough creations

  12. Briljant idea, thanx. I am going to try this with Isis as well. She loves to mess with toiletpaper and water so this is the perfect combination!

  13. Oh I remember doing this as a child!! I'm adding to my list of things to do when summer comes down here!!! thanks!

  14. Brilliant! And a hilarious post - thanks for sharing!

  15. I tried it here: www.dqmountaingirl.blogspot.com
    thanks for the idea!

  16. Thank you so much for posting this idea / activity! I have since pored over your site and you are absolutely amazing! Thank you for sharing your ideas. All our children benefit from it. Thanks from the heart! - Rowe

  17. If you grate a teaspoon of soap and dissolve it in the pulp mix it makes it much easier to draw on. (It softens the surface for easy doodling) Great project!

  18. We make our own paper at my house also. My 4yo daughter loves to make "rocks" out of the paper pulp. Recently we added seeds to the paper rocks so they can be planted in the garden. You can also use cookie cutters to make paper shapes that make great ornaments!


Thank you for your comments.