Sometimes I like to mix things up, show something useful! Coming out to LA meant having little money and bringing little of my craft supplies, so I have been trying to hold myself over in the creative department with things that are relativly cheap, or free, to work on. Alot of sewing, some random things too, like making paper out of trash :)
The method I use requires very little, no fancy "paper making screens", no store bought pulp, not even a blender! It's something fun to perfect, easy to personalize, usable and inspiring (I've had a few great ideas on what to use these papers for that lead to other free creative designs Im working on atm, see what you can come up with to do with them!).
Basic supplies. Trash paper (this can include old paper that has been written on and discarded, newspaper, matte magazine adds - though try to keep it relativly cleanslate because the more going on on the papers the more color and blothyness your paper will have which may or may not work for what you intend to do with the final piece!). Glue - any glue will do, dollarstore schoolglue will work just as well as modge podge! A frame to shape your paper - instead of buying a screen I made my own with an old frame, the back inlay of which I lined with tulle (YOURE GOING TO WANT TO LINE WHATEVER SURFACE YOURE PRESSING YOUR WET PULP DOWN INTO/MOLDING AGAINST WITH TULLE or some other very light fabric, otherwise when you try to flip it over and knock it out of the press to try somewhere flat the wet pulp will stick and tear apart to the back of the press). Various flower or decorative inlays and/or dyes - I find pressed, dry flowers work well, or very small, pestle crushed flowers - you want to remember this paper probably needs to have as few bumps and huge decorations mixed into the pulp as possible to write on it. The dye I use is just a small container of brewed coffee or tea because I like aged, neutral tones to paper - I find manmade dyes that are brown or earthtone tend to pull purple when you dilute them down as much as you probably want to to have tinted paper (unless of course you want bright, heavy colored paper for something, then have at it!)
Step1: tear your scrap papers into small pieces, probably an 1x1 inch or smaller, and let soak in water overnight. I like to start the process off with boiling water and I add my dyes/stains to soak into the paper overnight as well.
Step2: pulp your paper: this is where most people use a blender, and if you have one godspeed, but I dont. I pulp by hand, taking my soaked paper pieces and tearing them into smaller and smaller pieces. I usually spend about 40 minutes on this, watching a movie while I kneed the paper pieces - at one point they break down enough that you can usually begin rolling them between your fingertips and pulling apart the fibers, usually near the end of your 20-30 minute kneeding process.
Step3: add glue! I pour in, on average to a large bowl size of paper pulp, about half a cup of glue, it doesnt need to be precise and too much or too little wont have any great affect outside of the paper being more or less brittle and flaky. This step can even be skipped, but it helps hold the fibers together after they dry and makes a more durable piece of paper.
Step4: Add flowerbits. Remember, pressed flowers or flowers crushes gently in a pestle are best for non-bumpy pages, and you dont want to go overboard here or you will have a hard time writing over all the flowers. Idealy you want a few spots of color/texture thrown in per sheet.
Step5: add pulp to your frame. Remember to cover the back of the frame, the part that pops out, with tulle, so nothing sticks! Just pack your wet pulp into the frame, gently patting it even and packing it down (spread it out according to how thick you want the paper)
Step6: Dry pulp. Get a towel or anything very absorbant and gently pat down your packed pulp after you have it smoothed/situated the way you want your final product to look.
Step7: This is probably optional, but I always do it. Cut a piece of cardboard or any board/foam/hard surface to slightly less width and height to the inframe of your screen, and cover it with tulle (to prevent sticking, again). Gently press down onto your towel-blotted pulp, being sure to but corners and edges in and, generally, packing everything down and pressing it to a smoother surface. I usually blot it hard with my pressing cardboard piece for a few minutes (and yes, the cardboard does aborb water from the pulp and eventually get really wet, I dont mind but you can cut a few pieces of bpard and change them out as you go).
Step8: remove your paper from the press. The tulle helps here, too - gently tug on the back of the tulle that you have wrapped around yur framback - this will remove the back of the photoframe/molded paper without having to touch the pulp. In a quick motion flip the molded paper/frameback upside down over your chosen flat surface where the paper will dry, and shake the edges of the tulle/tug them with your fingers. The paper should fall away from it, upside down, on your desired location, with a plop ;)
Step9: Allow to dry! I usally let my paper dry overnight!