written by: heatherschulte•edited by: Tania Cowling•updated: 5/18/2010
A fun activity for both children and adults is to make recycled paper note cards. This activity shows us how to make old paper into new paper. The outcome is a sturdy, craft-style paper perfect for making note cards, an invitation, or thank-you card.
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Instructions to Make Recycled Paper Note Cards
Recycled paper can be made from old paper, or from very small pieces of wood. Both methods are outlined below. To get started, you will need:
liquid school glue
old paper or wood
a wire hanger
Optional: sharp knife or wood plane, food coloring, bleach, and scissors.
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How to Make Note Cards by Recycling Old Paper
1. The first step is to prepare the drying screens. Wire hangers bent in the shape of a square and covered in nylon pantyhose, or stockings, work well. Stretch the stocking around the edges of the coat hanger, being careful not to snag them in the process. If you are making several note cards, you will need several drying screens.
2. Next, tear the paper to be recycled into small bits. This can be done with a paper shredder, or by tearing the paper by hand into 1 to 2 inch squares.
3. Put the paper to be recycled into a blender. Cover the paper completely with water. The water level should be one to two inches higher than the top of the paper. Allow the paper to soak for a few minutes. Fill the blender with more water to keep the water level above the paper. It is critical to have enough water in the blender as you begin to puree or it will quickly overheat the blender.
4. Run the blender on low until the paper turns a light grey color. Blend an additional 2 minutes. Check to see that the paper is completely broken down into a puree. Smoother pureed pulp, in this step, will result in a smoother textured paper.
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How to Recycle Wood to Make Note Cards
In place of the old paper used in the steps above, wood can also be used to make recycled paper note cards. Gather small pieces of soft scrap wood, or branches from around your home. With a wood plane, or sharp knife, shave these into small slivers of wood. Try to make small skinny strips less than an inch in size. Follow steps 3 and 4 outlined above for recycling paper, soaking the wood and blending it just as the paper would be blended. Wood will dull the blades of a blender. Do not use a favorite kitchen blender for this project.
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Adding Color, Texture and Decor to the Recycled Paper Note Cards
5. To color the paper, add a few drops of food coloring and blend until the color is distributed throughout the pulp. To make white paper, add 1/8 teaspoon of bleach. If the recycled paper is not bleached or colored, it will be a light beige, or light gray, depending on the paper that was used to make the cards.
6. Natural elements can be mixed into the pulp to add texture and interest to the note cards. Some elements to consider are small twigs, grass, flowers. These items don't need to be blended into the pulp, just mix them in or add them during the drying process.
7. Fill a sink, or plastic tub similar in size to a sink, with 4 inches of water. Add 2 tablespoons of white school glue to the water. Add the pureed paper to the water. Mix it all together well with your hands.
8. With the paper puree mixed into the water well, place the screen at the bottom of the sink. Allow it to rest there for one minute. Slowly begin to raise the screen out of the water. It should take at least 30 seconds to lift the screen out.
9. Set the drying screen in a well ventilated area, so that the paper may dry. It may take a full 24 hours. Carefully and slowly, pull the paper off the screen.
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How to Dry and Shape the Recycled Paper Note Cards
To create note cards in a special shape, such as a heart, holiday symbol, or flower, use a form. Cookie cutters work well for this. Place the cookie cutter on a drying screen. As an alternative to step 8 above, strain the pulp from the water and spread it into the bottom of the cookie cutter, rather than using the drying screen to strain the pulp.
Another way to shape the note cards is to take solid sheets of recycled paper, after it has dried on the screen, and cut it to the desired size using scissors. Scrapbooking scissors can also be used to add a decorative edge to the finished note cards.
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After You Make Recycled Paper Note Cards
Recycled paper note cards add a special homemade touch to gifts and notes for loved ones. They also make a great educational project for children, because they can see the process of recycling paper. If you want the eco-friendly appeal of these recycled note cards, without the work, consider purchasing cards from these sources: BayVillageStore.com or MyGoodGreetings.com.