Paper Making: The Next Level
4 & up
All necessary materials are readily available.
Project Time Frame
This project involves experiments in papermaking. The goals of this project are:
- To develop new or improved papermaking techniques.
- To encourage recycling.
Materials and Equipment
- Computer with internet access
- Color printer
- Digital camera
- 2 wood or plastic picture frames (same size)
- Window screening (plastic or fiberglass works well)
- Large plastic basin
- Large absorbent white cloths (cotton sheets are ok)
- Typical office/craft/hobby supplies (such as paper, pens & poster-board, glue, etc.)
All materials can be found in your home, at local stores, or on ebay.
Most of us are vaguely familiar with how paper is made. Here, we experiment with bringing papermaking methods and techniques to the next level, by inventing a new or improved paper product. There are many ways in which one type of paper can be superior to others. For example, the paper you create could be stronger, longer-lasting, more eco-friendly, or more cost-effective than existing brands.
- What is the basic technique for making paper?
- What materials are most commonly used to make recycled paper?
- What other materials could be used to make paper?
Terms and Concepts to Start Background Research
- Research related materials (see bibliography shown below and terms listed above)
- Collect many paper samples. These may include toilet paper, egg cartons, printer paper, newspaper, magazines, napkins, etc. Sort materials as desired.
- Photograph all samples, and note the color(s) of each sample type.
- Tear paper into small bits (use a shredder if you can), and soak paper products (separately) in water for 12-24 hours.
- To make the mold, remove the glass and cardboard from the picture frames. You only need the empty frames themselves.
- Stretch a piece of screening tightly over one of the frames. Fold the screening over the edges, and staple or tack it securely. Screening should be about 3 inches longer and 3 inches wider than the frame you are attaching it to. (The other frame is called the deckle)
- Put a handful of paper in the blender, add warm water, and blend to the consistency of oatmeal.
- Transfer this mixture into the plastic basin, adding water until solution is about 90% water.
- Mix solution well just before each use.
- Hold the mold, screen-side up, and place the other frame (deckle) on top of it, so the screen is sandwiched in between the two frames.
- Hold it all together by the short sides, and immerse the frame into the pulp.
- Hold firmly, while gently moving frame from side-to-side, so pulp is evenly distributed.
- Slowly lift it out of the pulp. Let excess water drain through the screen for 2 minutes.
- Set the mold and deckle down on a flat white cotton cloth, and carefully remove the deckle.
- Flip the mold over, paper side down, onto the cloth. Use a sponge to soak up excess water by pressing it gently down on the screen.
- When the paper begins to separate from the screen, carefully lift the mold away.
- Dry finished sheets between weighted objects for one week to keep them flat. Put layers of cloth between sheets of paper to encourage drying, and to prevent sheets from sticking to each other.
- Test your paper creations by writing, painting or folding. Carefully note paper quality (absorbency, durability, look, feel, etc.).
- Think of a new material that might improve the quality of paper. Test this out using the same method described above. Experiment with textures using other textiles, or play with colors using bleach or tint.
- Carefully explain your methods in a detailed report.
- Include paper products and materials in your science fair display.
- Show interesting photos taken throughout the course of the project.
Wiki topic: “Papermaking.”
Internet searches of your own choosing: Search for any of the terms listed above (or make up your own phrases to search), and click on any results that interest you. Also, check youtube for relevant videos. Have fun surfing the net!
Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state’s handbook of Science Safety.