Friday, November 20, 2009

Making Paper and an idea to add to your list

Today, we officially started our ornament making. It's a tradition of ours I started when Bri was 3 months old. We've done all kinds of ornaments through the years, ranging from the completely corny crafty to somewhat artistic to everything with glitter glued on (Love Shack ornamentation for your tree).
Last year, while waiting for my baby boy to be born, I decided to start an ornament project wherein I would blog a new ornament idea every day for a month. Phhhhtttt. What was I thinking? I did not finish, of course, in the blissful wake of baby #4. (There are a few ornament posts with that label if you dare to take a look.)
Today I am here to tell you that I STILL have ideas and I am going to blog about them without putting any type of time restraints on myself. So maybe that will help.
Two things we like: Making paper and carving stamps. A few years ago, we made a name stamp for my mom and printed paper with her name and gave her the stamp too. (there is your gift idea!)
So, I discovered that you can use the softcut printmaking blocks to make a mold for handmade paper, and therefore, make some pretty nice ornaments for your tree.
You will need:
-softcut lino blocks (the thick kind) in about a 3"x3" size, but you can do whatever size you want to
-a carving tool with the deepest cutter installed
-cotton linters for paper molding (you can also recycle watercolor paper)
-a blender
-glitter, seeds, herbs, etc.
-small scrap of screen, a doily, or netting
-small, but very thick towels
 (shred by hand your linters or your watercolor paper ahead of time and have them soaking in lots of water for a day or two before beginning)

-First, draw your design on your block. Carve into it, keeping in mind that you want to go deep without going through to the other side, and try to make your design nice and concave. The simpler your design the better. (Details get lost anyway and that gets you off the hook for being fussy). Clear the design of excess carving material.

-Next, put about a half cup of paper pulp in the blender with lots of water. Blend until it is smoother, then stir in glitter, seeds, or herbs (we dispensed with the gentle stirring and poured in the glitter). Take a nice big piece in your hand and place that lump in your mold. Remove any excess from the sides of your design. Make sure your lump is big enough to create a nice, juicy, watery mound.

-Take your screen material and place it on top of the mound. Place the towel on top of that and press straight down. Blot with your fingertips and really work the paper down into the mold.

-Bend the mold slightly to release the paper. Set your cast paper on a dry towel or a cookie rack to dry.
When it is dry, glue a ribbon to the back for hanging. I have also glued them to cards for Christmas cards.
Explore making paper. There are a TON of sites online and even a flickr set. There are even more books at the library.

This really is a simple, fairly quick process, and highly satisfying. I bought the blocks at our local Artist Craftsman store, and I have also seen them at locally owned art supply stores, which is where I bought my other supplies. If you want to explore printmaking on its own, the same thing as for papermaking: library and online. You can learn a lot just by browsing the art supply store. I found this site inspiring.
I hope you get to try this. Serena helped me today with the heart and the star...we made lots more and she wants to keep going. We need more stamping blocks and so will go get some tomorrow.
Please email or comment if you need more details. I'm trying to get some practice at writing instructions, and strive to balance inspiration with practicality.
And, after our weekend papermolding soiree, I will post some pictures. Pray for sun. People like me need it!


  1. what a beautiful idea. thank you for sharing it :-)

  2. Beautiful! And, unlike lots of other tree ornaments, probably not fatal when inevitably eaten by baby boys!


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