Using Homemade Recycled and/or Plantable Papers
Plantable papers make fun DIY materials for cards and gifts. For this example project, we cut and stamped basic free-formed seed paper into small Valentine’s Day cards and seed-infused hearts; however, you can use the paper similar to construction-style paper for other printable craft projects.
Homemade recycled paper is usually thick, but not quite as strong as commercial paper, so keep that in mind when handling and using. Additionally, variations in the surface may create an uneven appearance for stamps or increase edge contact – not to worry, it is all part of the rustic look! It may also be thicker than some cutters or punches can handle.
Making Homemade Plantable Seed Paper
Preparing Paper for Homemade Recycled Paper
- Shred paper into manageable pieces.
- Soak shredded paper in water. The more robust the paper, the longer the soak. For example, newsprint is ready very quickly, standard white paper takes a while longer to truly soften up.
- Once fully soaked and softened, puree the paper in water using a sturdy blender or food processor. Pulse first to break up the larger pieces and then puree into a pulpy mixtures.
Tinting Recycled Paper Pulp (Optional)
- If tinting, transfer to a bowl, add dye (e.g. food colouring) and allow to sit for a while before proceeding to the next step. Newsprint will take on a grey hue when pureed and this will remain when dry and will darken any tint. If you want white or a white base for a pale colour, you will need to work with a whiter paper product, such as standard paper. If you want a particular tint, egg cartons often offer a nice pre-made pastel coloured base.
Adding Seeds to Make Plantable Paper (Optional)
For embedded seeds, mix your chosen small direct-sow seeds with the pureed paper at the pulp stage. Alternatively, in lieu of mixing into the pulp, you can pat them into the surface after pouring (see below) for controlled distribution or do a little bit of both.
The amount of seed will depend on your plans for the finished paper. A small amount works for a project you plant as a whole while a larger amount is needed for a project where the paper is cut or punched into smaller pieces in order to ensure that each piece is seed infused.
Making Homemade Paper from Prepared Pulp
Paper can be made in sheets (frame or freehand) or you can pre-shape using customised frames. Window screens, mesh attached to an old picture frame, or mesh through an embroidery hoop all make easy screens with built in frames for shaping. Cookie cutters make fun mini-frames and you can even use shaped muffin/ice cube molds to make “seed bombs” but will need to hand sponge excess moisture from the latter in lieu of press and drain. You can also forgo frames all together and free-form using mesh placed directly on a permeable surface, like your lawn – easy peasy!
Pouring and Draining:
- Set up your stiff (or well-supported) screening material.
- Dilute your prepared pulp with water if/as needed to get a nice free-flowing uniform pulpy mixture.
- Over a suitable drainage location, pour the mixture onto your screen. Try to ensure an even distribution. Ink from the paper and/or tinting may stain surfaces, so drain with care. I like to work outside, but if this isn’t an option, use a suitable laundry sink or set-up a large plastic container as a catch basin for pouring and draining.
- Press to remove excess moisture. You can do this by hand patting, or a rolling pin may be useful if you need help pressing or flatting your pulp. If working outside, this can be done directly on over your lawn or other safe working area. Otherwise protect your surfaces if needed using a suitable container and/or layers of rags or old towels.
- Optional: Remove from the screen onto another firm breathable drying surface. If your paper is well pressed, it should turn out intact onto your drying surface if your screen is inverted with care. You can also allow to dry on your mesh screen. This is the simplest approach, especially if free forming since removal of dry paper from a frame isn’t a concern.
- Allow to dry thoroughly before use. This will take approximately 24hours (give or take) in a warm dry area. If you have a little residual moisture, pressing between dry towels using a warm (not hot – remember you have seeds in there) iron can help. Again, beware of dry transfer if tinted.
- If your paper is dry, but has dried a little wonky or curved/cupped, you can press it under a heavy object (e.g. a stack of heavy books) to help flatten before use.
Caution: During the wet phase, this is messy business. Newsprint in particular will leave inky residue. Soak any stains ASAP and do a full clean-up as quickly as possible. Using glassware may help make cleaning a little easier. If kids are helping, wear suitable clothes and take extra care for likely messes.
Our Homemade Plantable Seed Paper Valentines
Our Valentine cards were made using our homemade free-formed seed paper (if you’re curious, we used viola seeds) in a combination of natural newsprint, pink tinted newsprint, natural white, and pink tint white paper. That way, you get to see a variety of examples in our post.
Our papers were cut to suit our stamp shapes, corners rounded for a slightly more finished look, and we stamped a variety of designs in Valentine pink with complimentary accents of garden-friendly green. Small off-cuts and extras were punched to make a jar of plantable hearts – cute present or favour idea! If you have extra off-cuts or leftovers, you can simply plant them yourself.
Homemade plantable paper is a fun DIY for making with kids, but it also looks great in grown-up natural and rustic styled projects. For the styled photos in this post, a basic reusable paper gift box was tied with a simple reusable satin ribbon, topped with a homemade plantable seed paper card, and embellished with a sprig of dried mini roses from our garden for a simple but beautiful green(er) gift wrap. The heart confetti is plantable too!
We have a post in the works on drying and preserving flowers, including dehydrated roses as shown and will be sharing all the details here. More soon!