Make Your Own Handmade Paper for Natural Greeting Cards

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Paper Making Homemade Paper

It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are less than two months away. I used to send greeting cards for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and also birthdays, anniversaries, and much more. Now with the Internet, I tend to just send off a quick email or post on Facebook. I started thinking it’s not personal enough, so I went back to cards. However, now I make my own.

Paper making for homemade greeting cards

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make paper, but it seemed so intimidating. I thought I had to get expensive equipment and special paper to start with. What? I need paper to make paper? I knew there had to be a cheaper way that was more environmentally friendly. This is what I came up with:

Homemade Paper Supplies

  • window screen (I picked mine up at a re-store for $1)
  • a picture frame with no glass or back
  • junk mail
  • a blender
  • water
  • felt – cut to match the size of the picture frame
  • an old towel
  • sponge
  • a shallow tub like a dish pan

Homemade Paper Process

Step 1: Start by tearing up the junk mail you want to use, or use a paper shredder to speed up the process. You can stick with white or off-white or use bright colors. You’ll need about half a blender cup full. Add water to the top and let it sit for a while to soften. (Your paper will be dark when wet, but will lighten up considerably when finished.)

Step 2: While your paper and water sits, make your frame. Place the picture frame back side down on the screening. Hot glue the frame to the screen. Alternatively, you can staple it in place. When the glue is cool, trim off the excess screening around the outside of the frame. Place the screen side down on the felt with the towel underneath.

Step 3: When your paper has softened, whirl it around a few times in the blender. You’ll get a pulpy mixture that will be pretty dark and chunky. Don’t worry, this will even out and dry much lighter. Pour the pulp mixture into your shallow tub. Stir with your hand and slide the frame underneath. Keep stirring for a minute or so (to suspend a large portion of the pulp) and allow it to settle on the screen in the frame. Pull the frame gently to the top. You should have a layer of pulp on the bottom of the screen. Place this on the towel.

Step 4: Now, place the piece of felt on top of the pulp. Water will begin coming through the felt. Start sponging the water off until it feels fairly dry. This may take 15 minutes or more depending on the size of your mold. Keep sponging until you have absorbed most of the water coming through.

Step 5: Once the pulp appears somewhat drier, carefully start peeling the paper off the mold with the felt still in place. (If you keep the felt on, you stand a better chance of keeping it in one piece.) After you do a few, it will get easier. When you get the paper sheet off the mold, lay it on a dry sheet of white paper or a thin dish cloth with a towel underneath. Place another piece of paper or thin dish cloth on top, then some newspaper and then some heavy books on top of that. This will help squeeze out any remaining water. After a few hours, take everything off and place your new paper on a drying rack. (I lay it on a flat piece of cardboard on top of my refrigerator.)

Step 6: Within a day or two your paper will be dry enough to write on. Fold it in half and find an envelope to match. Use paint, colored markers, photos, or whatever you like to write your message.

Creative Variations

You can use just about any type of paper. I’ve used old copy paper that is wrinkled and then added some crepe paper for color. I’ve also used ribbon, buttons, and other pieces of art to personalize the card. I’ve even added flower seeds so that after the recipient has gotten the card, it can be recycled right into the garden. If you do this, be sure to let them know so they can plant it right away!

I’ve also made larger pieces and made them into wall hangings with the help of a friend who does calligraphy. And I’ve added a drop or two of essential oil to make it even more special. In the fall I’ve added pieces of colored leaves to celebrate the season, and then pine needles in the winter.

Have you made paper before? Tell us about your experience!


About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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  1. Alma says

    Thank you Debra! I like the idea of recycling junk mail to make paper! Will give it a try and post the results.

  2. Taylor says

    This post is incredibly cool I just wish there were pictures of the steps to better explain because it is kind of confusing…

    • Debra Maslowski says

      Hi Taylor. Unfortunately my only camera is on my phone and it doesn’t make the right sized photos for the articles. I’m working on trying to fix it though.

  3. Vera says

    When my grands were small, (4&6) we made paper for cards pretty much the same way except we added lint from clothes (yellow, red, green, blue,etc.). To tint it slightly. We also added berries off our trees for more texture, then simply used the paper for the outside of the cards . We used plain computer paper, folded and glued down the center fold for our messages. The kids glued berries, flowers, grasses, etc. to the outside and they were beautiful and personal. This was an experience they later shared at school in their art classes. It was a great family project and we loved the creativeness each person applied to their own particular card. Happy creating!

  4. jo n says

    I would use non-glossy mail for this project. Did you use any glossy mail? If so, did it work just as well?

    • Debra Maslowski says

      I think it might, Jo, if it were light colored. Most of the glossy stuff that comes with our local paper is pretty dark, but if you can find some lighter colored paper I think that would be just fine. Let me know how it goes!