Ancient Japanese Papermaking

T’sai Lun invented paper almost 2000 years ago. He was an official of the Imperial Court. His paper was made from mulberry fibers, rags, fishnet parts, and hemp robe, soaked in water and glue. Today, however, the Japanese are credited with the creation of paper. In most areas of Japanese culture, you can find this fine paper such as art, sculpture, fashion, architecture, and food packaging.

You can make your own paper using your kitchen blender! In addition, you will need several scraps of colored or plain paper torn in 1″ pieces, paper towels, a shallow pan, a teaspoon, a styrofoam container, an 8×8 inch window screen, stapler, scissors, cookie cutter, and a needle and thread.

Your first chore is cutting out the center of the styrofoam tray with scissors. This will make a screen. Save about 1 Ã?½” from the edge to staple your window screen around. Make sure to keep the top level and then trim the screen edges. To make the paper slurry, fill your blender with 1 Ã?½ to 2 cups of hot water and blend. The mixture should be very liquid. Now you are ready to add herbs (fresh or dried), flowers (tiny petals or whole blossoms), glitter and pieces of ribbon. You can also add food coloring to the mixture to spice it up.

Now you can put the screen in the middle of the shallow pan. Be sure to have your cookie cutter or paper outline ready and spoon a bit of the slurry mixture into the shape of the cookie cutter or outline. With your spoon, push out the water. You can add colored paper slurry around the edges of the form. Allow the art to dry overnight and then carefully take off the screen and use a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture. If you want to make paper ornaments, you can do so by attaching a hanging loop with your needle and thread. Greeting cards are also cute. Just clue your ornament onto a piece of heavy paper and then write your greeting inside!

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