Category Archives: Paper

Junk Mail Paper – Part Two

It’s time for another installment in my Junk Mail Paper series!  In the first post, I showed you the simplest version of how to recycle your junk mail and unwanted paper into new paper .

Junk Mail Paper - Part One(If you missed the first post, you can find it HERE.)

If any of you actually tried this, I would LOVE to hear about it or see pictures! Share them in the comments!

Now I’m going to show you one of the things you can do with your new paper – making easy-tear notepads out of it!  I also have a fun reusable notepad holder to show you!
Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
Isn’t it cute? Let’s get started!

The Supplies
Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
For the Notepad
1. Homemade junk mail paper (not pictured)
2. Paper cutter or scissors (not pictured)
3. Chipboard
4. Wide Painter’s Tape
5. Two pieces of wood that are taller and wider than your paper and at least a half inch deep.
6. 2 four inch C-clamps (not pictured)
7. Clear 100% silicone sealant – for window/door/attic
8. Magnetic tape or button (optional)

For the Holder
1. DIY 5×7 Chippendale Frame from Oriental Trading Company
2. Scrapbook paper
3. Mod Podge
4. Paint
5. 1 magnetic button
6. 1 small washer
7. Hot glue and gun
8. Sand paper (optional)
9. Primer (optional)

The Directions
Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
Start by trimming each piece of your homemade junk mail paper to the same size.  Make sure you flattened it first by following my instructions in Part 1.  If you have some pieces with worse deckle edges or more uneven edges than the other sides, trim those sides first.  Save those trimmed edges to recycle into more paper! My paper has been trimmed to 3×4 inches.  By the way, I FINALLY found my paper cutter! Yay! You might remember me talking about how frustrated I was about not being able to find it for 2 years in a previous post.  Anyway…

Also trim a piece of chipboard to the same size.  I have actual chipboard.  T, my hubby, brought home a HUGE box a few years ago from work, and I still haven’t gone through the whole thing.  I LOVE free stuff! You could easily cut out a piece from a cereal box or other similar food box.

Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
To assemble and make the notepad, first cover the edge of each board with Painter’s tape.  It should generously cover around each edge, touching 3 sides, like the picture shows.  I used shelf inserts from our TV stand for this.  Get creative! You don’t have to go buy wood scraps to do this!

You need to carefully stack your paper and chipboard.  The chipboard serves as a sturdy backing for your notepad. I find it easier to add the chipboard last, but you might find it easier to start with it.  If you’re recycling a food box to use as chipboard make sure the printed side is facing up and you stack the paper on top of it to hide the print.

To stack the paper, carefully line up each edge that will be at the top of the notepad.  If a piece lays lower than the rest, it won’t be touched by the glue and will just fall out.   I suggest doing it piece by piece and not just tapping the stack on a table to get them even.  Pinch the top of the notepad tightly so the papers won’t slip, line it up with the taped edge of one board, put the other board on top lining it up with the paper and first board, and then tightly secure the C-clamps around everything (use the picture above as a guide). Make sure your paper didn’t move while you put the clamps on.  It needs to be as straight as possible.

There are lots of different glues you can use to secure your notepad, but I’ve found that I really like the clear 100% silicone sealant the best!  It creates a nice thick binding and the paper tears off so easily.  It also doesn’t bleed into the paper like some other glues will.  Apply 2-3 layers of glue to the top edge of your notepad.  I like to wear a glove and apply it with my finger. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for drying.  The Painter’s tape will protect your boards from glue and keep the notepad from sticking.

Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
This is the only picture I could find of one of the notepads I’ve made in the past.  This one was a gift for my mom a few Christmases ago. It has varying Christmas themed paper and a magnet on the back.  You can add a magnetic button or piece of magnetic tape to the back of yours to stick it up on your refrigerator.  However, if you want to make a notepad holder, don’t add a magnet, and keep reading!

Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
Oriental Trading Company let me pick out some items for review, and I just HAD to have this DIY 5×7 Chippendale Frame!  It comes unfinished, so there are so many crafty things you could do with it!  It also come in an 8×10 size.  I started by disassembling the frame.  There are 3 inner pieces: the glass, the chipboard, and the filler paper.

Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
Then I just painted the frame in Canary Yellow.  You could sand and prime it first, but I wanted some of the wood grain to show through.  A helpful tip to keep paint from getting all over the edges of your can is to put a piece of Painter’s Tape over the top and wipe your brush on that instead of the edge of the can! Neat, huh?!

Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
I cut a piece of scrapbook paper to the size of the chipboard that came with the frame and glued it to the chipboard with Mod Podge.  The paper I used is part of the Black and White Monochromatic Paper Pack from Oriental Trading Company.  I love the variety in this pack.  If you scroll back up to the supplies picture, you can see the designs it comes with.  I especially love the music themed paper!  This pack is the standard 12×12 scrapbooking size. They have MANY other paper designs and paper packs besides this one. Can you tell my foam brushes get a lot of use?!

Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
How you reassemble the frame is up to you, BUT I chose to layer it with the glass on the bottom, the paper in the middle, and the chipboard with the scrapbook paper showing on top. You can reuse your frame by layering it this way.  You will be gluing something to the top layer. So if you don’t put the glass on top, you save it from the glue and can use it as a regular frame in the future.  I didn’t want a shiny front for mine either, which is also why I chose to layer it this way. You need to put all the layers in there to make it nice and snug.

Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
Use hot glue to attach the washer to the notepad and the magnetic button to the scrapbook paper.  Don’t do it the other way around.  This is what makes it reusable.  It is A LOT cheaper to add a new washer than a magnet to a new notepad.  You might even be able to reuse the chipboard backing if you carefully pull off the remaining glue!

Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
Embellish your paper and frame! I made simple paper roses out of the scrapbook paper and stamped “notes” onto the bottom of my paper pad.

Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
I also used Mod Podge to line the edges with the same scrapbook paper.  I know some people think the gray and yellow combination has been overdone, but this is my first time using those colors together! I couldn’t resist! 🙂 I even put yellow thread in the paper to give it a little more character.

Junk Mail Paper - Part Two of a series.
That’s it! You now have a cute reusable notepad holder with a homemade notepad!  Even better, these frames come with attached hanging hardware and can be hung vertically or horizontally.

Oriental Trading Company
If you haven’t heard of Oriental Trading Company before,  a visit to their site will definitely be worth your time!  Everything is affordable, and they have a Lowest Price Guarantee.

Here are some great links to get you started:
1. Shop OTC
2. Sign up for email savings
3. Request a free catalog
4. Sign up for Oriental Trading Rewards
5. Explore free project ideas

Oriental Trading Company

**This post is sponsored by Oriental Trading Company.  I received a gift card to put toward products for review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions and reviews are written with complete honesty.  The entirety of this post is comprised of my own thoughts and words.**

Remember, if you post about this project, please be sure to give me credit and link back to me or grab a button from the sidebar. Thanks!

Your opinions and thoughts mean a lot to me.  I would love for you to leave me a comment below.  Thanks for stopping by today!


Filed under DIY - Do It Yourself, Paper, Reviews

Junk Mail Paper – Part One

I love it when you can take something completely useless that you would otherwise throw away and make it into something functional and beautiful!  One of those useless items is junk mail!  Usually it’s covered in print, so it doesn’t make good scrap paper, especially if it has personal information on it.  Then it’s straight to the shredder or rip it up before tossing it.  You COULD give it to your little ones and let them have fun scrunching it and tearing it up, but that’s about all it’s good for, right?  Well….. I’m going to show you a few awesome things you can do with your unwanted mail.  This also includes any used scrap paper, old bills to be shredded, leftover homework, tissue paper that no longer looks pretty, toilet paper (unused!), paper towels (unused!), and almost any type of paper that you would otherwise throw away.  I’m going to do this as a series of posts, so this doesn’t get super long!

First off, we’re going to recycle that paper into new paper!  Already recycle your unwanted paper? Awesome!  Unfortunately, we don’t have recycling pick up services in our area, and recycling ANYTHING means hoarding big piles, lugging it to the recycle bins at the dump, and waiting in line since everyone seems to do it on the weekends! So, to be honest, we don’t recycle as much as we used to since living here.

Junk Mail Paper - Part 1 of a series.  Paper making and other ways to recycle junk mail!
Have you ever seen that pretty homemade paper that looks like linen?  Or has colorful thread or dried flowers in it? Or maybe you received a wedding invitation on plantable paper with seeds in it?  Most of the time what you’re looking at is homemade paper.  And what is homemade paper?  It’s just the process of recycling old paper!  And that’s what I’m going to show you how to do.

Don’t get overwhelmed by this.  It is very easy.  Once you have all of your tools and supplies assembled, it’s really easy to pull them out each time you want to make paper.

First of all, you will need a mold and deckle.  Huh? What’s that?  For your benefit, I’ve included a glossary of terms at the very end of this post. Go check it out.  I’ll still be here! You can purchase a mold and deckle kit at most craft stores.  However, I’m going to show you how to make one for a fraction of the cost.  If you would rather buy one,  skip down 3 pictures, and start reading where it says, The Supplies.

The Supplies
two empty wooden frames – one bigger than the other (check your thrift stores and yard sales!) I recommend small frames for beginners and then working up to a full size sheet of paper.
window screen
hammer and short nails or a staple gun

The Directions
Place the window screen on top of the larger frame.  Nail it down or staple it while pulling the screen tight in all directions.
You can see in my picture that this frame once had a screen on it.  It got a lot of use and wasn’t as tight as I wanted, so I put a new screen on.

Using a scissors, cut the window screen around the frame.  You now have a mold!  Easy right?  Put the mold and deckle (smaller frame) off to the side while we get our paper making supplies together.

The Supplies
paper to be recycled
a plastic tub that is wider and longer than your mold and deckle and preferably has a lid
large spoon
a blender
heavy towels (like bath towels)
several thick sponges
several pieces of white felt
heavy books or equivalent (optional)
a paper shredder (optional)
an iron and ironing board (optional)
12. wire kitchen sieve (optional)
13. Ziploc bags or similar (optional)

The Directions
I recommend doing this outside. You can do it inside. Just pick a place that has water friendly surfaces.

If you have a paper shredder, awesome! If not, you can tear your paper into small pieces.  I would try to stay away from really thick paper especially if it has shiny print.  Remove the plastic from envelope windows. Magazines and newspaper are ok!  The mix of paper you use will determine what your new paper will be like.  You can mix different kinds to get different thicknesses and textures.  What I’m going to show you is the SIMPLEST form of paper making.  There are so many fun ways you can do this and things you can add to your vat or mold.  Let’s keep it simple for now.

Fill your tub with warm to hot water.  A lot of people skip this step and go straight to the blender.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  Your blender won’t have to work so hard and you’ll get smoother pulp.  Add your shredded paper. This is an awesome kid activity!  M did a lot of this himself.  Obviously, children should not use a paper shredder, and young children should not use a blender.

So I’m going to stray one step from simple, but it’s still easy.  One of the easy ways to color your paper is to add a little bit of shredded, colored tissue paper.  This batch will produce lime green paper.  I have a lot of junk mail envelopes with the blue security print in this batch.  Basic color mixing: blue + yellow (tissue paper) = green. If you use white printer paper with a lot of black print on it, your paper will usually result in an off white color (linen).  Just like most things that are wet, your pulp will be a lot darker in color than what your finished dry paper will be. Use a large spoon to push all of the paper under the water.  You can definitely use your hands if your water isn’t too hot.  M loved this!  The paper will stick all over you though.  Let the paper shreds soak in the hot water until they are soft.  This only takes minutes for regular printer paper. Thicker paper will take longer.

This batch will come out gray and will be featured in other parts of this paper making series.

Scoop your softened paper into the blender.  M’s open mouth expression.. “Ohhh, cool!”

Add some of the hot water.  There are no specifics to this.  You just need enough liquid to help puree the paper. You don’t need to add anything else.  The bonding materials in the original paper are enough to bond new sheets of paper. Blend it up. Yay for outdoor outlets! For beginners, I suggest blending it as smooth as you can.  Add more hot water as needed and stir it once in a while (while it’s off). If you’re worried about dulling your blades, use a separate blender just for paper making (again, check your thrift stores and yard sales). Keep the leftover water in the tub.

I’m not going to lie to you.  The pulp is going to look pretty disgusting. Especially if you’re not using fun, bright colors. This is the gray batch again and will be in the pictures from here on out.

Pour the pulp back into the tub.  Don’t worry if you have a few leftover shreds of unblended paper in there.  It will just add character to your new paper.  Just pour a little at a time.  You’re going to have to experiment with how much you need when you make your first piece of paper.  I always add more warm water at this point too.  It helps to have several inches of the water/pulp mixture in the tub.  You’re going to be sticking your hands in this, so warm verses cool water is a personal choice. Put a thick towel folded in half next to your tub.  Have your felt and sponges ready.

Get your mold and deckle.  Put the deckle on the center of the screen on the mold.  Hold it by its sides so you’re pinching the 2 frames together. Try not to touch the screen.

This next part might be hard to understand.  So if you have questions, please ask in the comments below.  While holding your mold and deckle, submerge your hands into the vat.  Gently swirl and stir the pulp to try to evenly distribute and suspend the fibers in the water.  Don’t create large waves. Now lift your hands out, and with the water moving, scoop the mold and deckle down to the bottom of the tub. In other words, start with the mold and deckle at a 90 degree angle with the deckle facing away from you.  Insert it into the water starting at the side of the tub closest to you, and using a scooping motion, move it to the bottom of the tub so it is flat again.  The goal is to get underneath as many of the fibers as you can.  Then gently stir the water again, moving your hands towards you and away from you.  Take the slightest pause in the middle of the tub and immediately, but gently, pull your mold and deckle straight up out of the water while keeping it level.  Whew! Did you get all of that?  Again, if you have questions, please ask!

It’s actually really easy!  That whole process only takes 5 – 10 seconds. If you can get your pulp evenly distributed, and pull straight up, you’ll have an even sheet of paper on your mold.  This is where you’ll need to decide if you should add or take away pulp to get the desired thickness of your paper.  The more paper you make from one vat, the more pulp you’ll need to add.

Let the excess water drip off of the mold while you hold it over the tub.  You can tip it slightly to let water run off the corner.  While keeping it straight, lift the deckle straight up and off of the mold.  Put a piece of felt on top of your newly formed sheet of paper. If you’re making small paper, put it close to the edge so you can fold the felt on top of it in a later step. You can also turn your mold upside down and put it on felt that way.  The paper won’t fall off and will stick to the mold.  Put it on the towel.  The felt should be in between the towel and mold so the back of the mold is facing up.  Take your sponges and start sponging up excess water.  Squeeze them out periodically into your tub.  Switch to dry sponges and let the damp ones dry to speed up the process.

Next is to couch the paper.  For beginners, the easiest way is to keep sponging and replacing the towel if needed until the mold pulls away leaving the paper on the felt.  If you have little patience like me, you can sponge it to a point where you can peel the paper off the mold.  This is a little bit risky.  The wet paper will easily tear and it might fall wrinkled onto your felt.

Here is a fully couched paper.  See the wrinkles?  Oh well.  It’s also normal for some to stay behind on the edges of your mold.  This is especially true if your deckle wasn’t flush with your mold.  In this case, my nails were too long and prevented the deckle from completely touching the screen. Once you get the hang of it, you can really produce a lot of paper fast.

All that’s left is the drying process!  You can let it dry naturally or do a few things to speed it up.  I like to fold my felt over the paper.  I can usually fit two pieces of paper per piece of felt.  If your paper is bigger, just place another sheet of felt over it.  With an iron on low – and I stress LOW! – you can  iron over the felt to dry more of the water. Craft felt sheets are synthetic and will toast if your iron is too hot.  Ask me how I know!

From here you can leave it in the felt to dry.  You can also stack the felt and put heavy books on top to help them dry flat.  Let me tell you, your paper will take days or even weeks to dry this way! So another option is to open up the felt, tip it over, and let them peel off onto a water safe surface to dry.  I like to use my ironing board, because once they are dry, I iron them flat (iron on low!).  This is similar to ironing sewing patterns if you’re a sewer.

(This picture shows wet verses dry)
You could really speed up the drying process by using the iron directly on the wet paper.  This takes practice and skill.  At all costs you want to avoid actually ironing the paper, but instead press it with the iron (again on low!).  Trust me, your paper will crumble and stick to your iron if you at all rub the iron on it while it’s wet. Always leave a corner peeking out of the iron so you have something to grab onto to pull it off.  Your paper won’t evenly dry this way and you may end up with some scorch marks.  But it’s a good method for the brave and impatient!

Experiment with different colors and textures.  Veer away from the simple and add embellishments to your paper!  You’ll have a nice pile of paper like this with natural deckle edges! Some of these have some yellow thread in them.

Now, don’t throw away your vat of pulp!! First of all, you can save it and make more paper with it in the future or mix it in with other vats.  Second of all, I’m going to show you some awesome things you can do with that pulp in other installments of this series. I’m also going to show you what you can do with your new paper.

To save your pulp, you can just cover it up, but only do this for the short-term.  Otherwise, pour the contents of your tub into a wire sieve.   Do this outside and NOT over your drain please.  The sieve will collect the pulp the same way the screen on the mold does.  You can use your fist to squeeze a lot of the water out.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Store your wet pulp in an airtight Ziploc bag or something similar.  So far, I’ve had batches of mine keep this way for 3 years and counting.  I just use what I need when I want it.

If you’re not already following me or subscribed by email, make sure you are so you are notified of other installments of this series!  You can find the email subscription link on the top right side of this page. And one more reminder: if you have questions about this project, PLEASE ask, and I will do my best to answer them.  Now start recycling your junk mail and I’ll meet you back here for Part 2!

Glossary of Terms
Mold and Deckle
– A 2 part frame used to make the paper.  The bottom part is the mold.  It is larger and has a screen on it.  The upper part is the deckle.  It determines the shape and size of the paper.
– A mix of plant fibers and water.
– The container that holds the pulp from which the paper is produced.
– (pronounced “cooch”) The process of transferring a newly formed sheet of paper from the mold to felt.
Deckle Edge
– The natural, untrimmed edge formed on the paper by the deckle.

Remember, if you post about this project, please be sure to give me credit and link back to me or grab a button from the sidebar. Thanks!

Your opinions and thoughts mean a lot to me.  I would love for you to leave me a comment below.  Thanks for stopping by today!


Filed under DIY - Do It Yourself, Free Tutorials, Kids' Crafts, Paper, Upcycled