The art of paper making allows you to transform old newspapers, junk mail, and other papers that you have cluttering your home into lovely, handcrafted sheets of usable paper.
Like with most hobbies, it’s often difficult to know where to start. A paper-making kit can remove some of the guesswork and get you started producing beautiful handmade paper right away.
What are the best paper-making kits? The best paper-making kits will include a high-quality, sturdy mold and deckle for dipping out sheets of paper from the slurry. Top recommendations include Arnold Grummer’s 39, Wooden Deckle’s Classic Paper-Making Kit, and Classic Paper Making.
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Let’s take a look at the basics of paper making and the top three paper-making kits and learn how easy it is to make your own dipping frame.
About Paper Making
For many people, the thought of making paper by hand is intimidating, but it’s actually an easy, straightforward process that can be a lot of fun.
Basically, there are only four, simple steps.
Make a Slurry of Paper Pulp
This is not nearly as difficult as it may sound.
Just tear up a page or two of scrap paper, toss it into a blender reserved for this purpose, add water until the blender is about ⅔ full, and blend until the consistency appears uniform.
You can even add food coloring or other dye to your slurry to make colored paper, or simply use colored scrap paper to start with.
For more coloring and decorating tips, be sure to read my article on making colored paper.
Dip Out a Sheet of Paper
Pour your slurry into a plastic container (a dishpan works great) slightly larger than your mold and deckle (dipping frame).
At an angle, insert the frame into the slurry until it’s resting on the bottom of the container. Lift the frame straight up slowly, and allow the water to drain back into the container.
The pulp fibers will remain on the screen as the water drips away.
Couch and Press the Paper
Couching means to transfer the wet paper onto another surface for pressing and drying.
Put a cover screen on top of the new paper, place the frame’s long edge on a piece of felt, and lay the frame down as if you’re closing a book so that the paper is facing down.
With a dry sponge, begin pressing on the frame’s screen to remove water from the paper. Remove the frame, place blotting paper on the wet paper, and continue to press out water.
Dry the Paper
The fastest way to dry paper is to iron it, though there are several other drying methods that I discuss here.
Simply place your paper between two paper towels or cloths, and iron until dry.
What You’ll Need In Addition to a Kit
Kits for paper making save you time as you don’t need to construct your own dipping frame or gather decorative additions. All that is included.
However, there are a few more items that you’ll want to have on hand before you get started.
You will need:
- Scrap paper to make the pulp.
- A blender dedicated solely to crafts.
- A shallow container, like a dishpan, to hold the slurry.
- Absorbent material (sponge, felt, blotting papers or couch sheets, etc.) to press out excess water from the newly dipped paper.
- A tray to catch water when pressing the paper.
- A few towels to clean up any dripped water.
- An iron to speed drying time (optional).
- Other decorative additions if desired. (Need ideas? Read this.)
- A piece of cloth or felt and a flat object on which to dry your paper if you don’t plan on ironing it. Think wooden board, window screen, plexiglass, etc.
If you are totally new to the paper making process, take a few minutes and watch one of the most well-known paper-making experts, Mr. Arnold Grummer, lead you through the entire process from start to finish.
Our Top Recommendations
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The name behind this kit says it all. Arnold Grummer’s is the leading supplier of paper-making kits and supplies.
This simple, yet fully functional kit includes all the basics – a wooden deckle, a paper-making screen, a cover screen, a plastic support grid, a packet of dried botanicals to add as decorative elements, and clear, easy-to-follow instructions.
This particular kit will produce multiple sheets of 5 ½ by 8 ½ inch paper, and all of the components, except the dried botanicals, can be reused again and again.
- Precise, illustrated instructions written in English are included.
- Components are reusable.
- Quality, sturdy parts at an affordable price.
- Includes a pouch of dried flower petals to add to your slurry or directly to the wet paper.
- Paper is easily removed from the frame.
- Cover screen aids in the couching process.
- American owned.
- When dipping, you must hold the support screen, paper-making screen, and deckle together or bind the ends with rubber bands.
- Makes a relatively small sheet of paper.
- No other decorative elements are included.
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If you’re looking forward to experimenting with colorful additions, this kit may be ideal for you.
It not only features a handmade mold and deckle, a sturdy fiberglass screen, reusable couching sheets, and a pressing sponge but also six different, colorful design elements to produce creatively decorated sheets.
An instruction booklet and a handy storage box are also included. This kit can be used to make multiple, personally designed, 5 by 7 inch sheets of paper.
- Wooden mold and deckle is crafted by hand.
- Includes reusable couching sheets.
- Comes with six small packets of different design additions.
- All parts, excluding the decorative elements, are reusable.
- Mold and deckle must be held together while dipping paper.
- More expensive than other options.
- Does not come with a bottom support screen or cover screen to aid in couching.
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Although this kit is marketed for children, anyone, particularly beginners, will enjoy using it.
This kit is unique as it includes three different dipping frames – one large frame, one small frame, and one round frame (round frames are usually hard to find).
This kit was designed with decorators in mind. It arrives with a tray containing 12 colors of glitter, colored tissue paper, and five bottles of dye in blue, green, orange, red, and purple.
As a bonus, you’ll also receive a bottle of glue (sometimes added to produce a stronger paper) and two packages of dehydrated pulp, enough to make a total of 16 – 20 sheets.
- Contains three different frames, one of which is round.
- Includes one paper-making screen and one cover screen.
- Five bottles of dye allow you to tint your slurry in a variety of colors and shades to make colored paper.
- Frames may be reused repeatedly.
- Bottles are not labeled in English.
- The English portion of the short instructions may be difficult to follow.
- You will need some basic knowledge of how to make paper before using this product.
- Children will need help due to the inadequate instructions.
Can I Make My Own Mold and Deckle?
If you are a DIY type person, making your own mold and deckle is the obvious way to go, and it’s really easy to do.
You’ll need two picture frames. Remove the glass, insert, and cardboard.
Take one of the frames, and using a staple gun, staple a piece of window screening to the flat side. This will be your mold.
For extra support, staple a piece of hardware cloth on top of the screen, but it’s not really necessary unless you plan on making thick paper.
Place strips of duct tape along the top perimeter of this frame to cover the screen’s edges and protect your fingers.
The other empty frame will function as your deckle.
When you are ready to dip out your paper from the slurry, you’ll place your deckle, flat side down, on top of your mold to hold the slurry in place as the pulp settles on the screen and to form the paper’s edges.
To prevent the possibility of shifting, simply place a rubber band around each of the shorter ends before dipping, and you’re all set!