A thoughtful handmade card is one of our favorite ways to give thanks. This simple tutorial for recycled paper thank you cards gives old materials a new life, and the end result is always beautiful. Young children will enjoy helping, and creating their own cards will make the practice of gratitude more tangible. They will feel proud to hand their beautiful recycled cards to their grandparents, teachers and friends.
Gather Your Materials
- Paper from your recycling bin
- An old blender
- A wide plastic tub
- A mould and deckle (a screen attached to a frame)
- Cookie cutters (optional)
Prepare Your Paper
To start off, grab some paper from your recycling bin. Junk mail and old school work is perfect for this project. You can also set aside artwork on watercolor and construction paper to add weight to your upcycled paper.
Have your children cut or rip the paper up into tiny pieces, adding them to a large mixing bowl as they go. Once they finish, fill the bowl with water and let the paper soak for 24 hours.
If you're on a tight schedule or feeling impatient you can skip the soaking process by boiling your paper on the stove. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add your paper scraps and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the water cool.
Once you've completed the previous steps add a few handfuls of your paper scraps to a blender with a generous amount of water. We recommend using an old blender or finding one used a thrift store, to avoid burning out the motor on your everyday blender. Use the pulse function to blend your paper into a pulp. Add more water if it gets too thick to pulse.
Note: You should store this blender with your art supplies and only use it for projects that don't involve food.
From Pulp to Paper
Pour your paper pulp into a plastic tub. Add more water. The amount will vary depending on how much pulp you made, but a thicker mixture will make heavier paper. For more textured paper, you can mix in additional materials at this stage. Popular add ons include dried flower petals, wildflower seeds, leaves, grass, yarn fibers, and scraps of contrasting paper.
For the next step, you can use a mould and deckle, or make your own with a picture frame and some mesh screen. Screenprinting frames are inexpensive and work well, but just about any screen will do the trick.
After stirring your mixture, slide your frame into the water, taking it all the way to the bottom of your tub. Scoop up your slurry and lift the frame straight up, out of the water. Gently shake it to even out your fibers and allow the excess water to drain through the screen.
To make special shapes, place a cookie cutter on your screen and use a measuring cup to pour your mixture into it. Let the water drain before gently removing the cookie cutter.
If you're using a mould and deckle it's easy to gently remove your sheet from the frame by turning it over onto a smooth towel or piece of absorbent felt. For other screens, the paper can be left to dry and gently taken out when it's still slightly damp.
Allow your paper to dry for 24-48 hours, depending on your climate. You can also place them on a baking sheet in a low temperature oven to dry.
Decorate and Distribute
Fold and trim your cards into shape. Get creative and decorate your cards with watercolors or other art supplies. Once you make your first batch of recyled handmade thank you cards you'll be hooked! It's a simple project that can be done any time of year. Make a bundle of cards as a gift or create DIY recyled Valentine's cards, plantable Earth Day paper, and more. The possiblities are endless.
Who will get your recycled handmade thank you cards? Show us your creations by tagging us on Instagram and using the hashtag #BellaLunaToys.