How to Make Watercolor Paper

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Watercolors are dried paints you can hydrate with varying levels of water.
Watercolors are dried paints you can hydrate with varying levels of water. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Watercolor paper is formulated to preserve work without curling or discoloring, and its texture contributes to the quality of a piece. Machine-made watercolor paper incorporates plant fibers such as cotton, hemp or linen, and it comes in many different colors and textures. Homemade watercolor paper incorporates plants fibers and uses paper waste in an economical way. It can also become a fun family project with children who like to paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Staple gun
  • 8-by-10-inch wooden frame
  • 12-by-14-inch window screen
  • Construction paper scraps
  • Large pan
  • Blender
  • Tub
  • Dryer lint
  • Shredded plant fibers (optional)
  • Clean rags
  • Newspapers
  • Rolling pin

Staple a 12-by-14-inch window screen to an 8-by-10-inch wooden frame. Check to ensure all the edges are firmly attached to the frame.

Rip construction paper scraps into 1-inch square pieces, and place them in a large pan. Fill the pan with warm water and soak the paper overnight or until it becomes soft and pulpy.

Scoop 1 cup of the soft paper mixture, and place in a blender. Fill the blender with water, and blend the paper mixture for a few seconds. Pour the contents of the blender into the large tub, and repeat until the tub is filled with at least 5 inches of paper mixture.

Mix dryer lint and shredded plant fibers into the paper mixture if you choose to decorate your paper with these items. You can add dry grass, onion skins, petals or leaves.

Dip the frame under the paper mixture, and shift it slowly back and forth until 1/2 inch of paper mixture coats the screen evenly. Lift the frame out of the water without tilting it, and let the water drain out of the frame. Place a clean rag over the frame once the water has drained; press gently to remove more water.

Cover a work surface with several layers of newspaper. Keeping the rag in place on top of the paper, gently flip the screen over and place it on top of the newspaper. Carefully remove the frame without damaging the paper.

Cover the paper with another rag, and roll over the paper with a rolling pin to remove more water. If you want to make additional sheets of paper, repeat Steps 5 and 6 and stack the papers on top of each other, then roll over the entire stack.

Peel off the top and bottom rags carefully, and let the paper dry overnight on a smooth countertop. If you want texturized paper, let it dry on a rough surface such as a porous tile.

Tips & Warnings

  • For pure white paper, add 1/4 cup of bleach during the blending step.

References

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