How to Make a Paper Watermark

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Currency often uses watermark designs to prevent false distribution.
Currency often uses watermark designs to prevent false distribution. (Image: 5 mark image by Tribalstar from Fotolia.com)

Watermarks are designs put into paper while the material is being made. Paper is made from pulp, which is manipulated to create a design. When the paper dries, the watermark often is barely visible to the naked eye but shows up when the paper is help up to the light, placed over a black surface or submerged in water. To create a true watermark at home, you will need to make your own paper. Many companies offer watermark services to anyone who wishes to print large amounts of watermarked paper. The symbols often are used for security purposes or to identify the authenticity of a document.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • 16 or 18 gauge wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Window screen roll
  • Large wooden picture frame
  • Staple gun
  • Fishing line
  • Needle
  • Blender
  • Large plastic container
  • Water
  • Rolling pins
  • Dish towels or blotting papers
  • Newspaper
  • Sponges
  • Iron and ironing board

Designing the Watermark and Making Pulp

Sketch your watermark design on a piece of paper. Using the sketch as a pattern, bend the wire into the same shape as the design.

Cut a piece of window screen from the roll that is slightly larger than the picture frame. Remove the glass and backing from the picture frame. Place the frame flat on top of the window screen. Wrap the screen around the edges of the frame and secure with a staple gun. This is the mold to make the homemade paper.

Stitch the wire design to the window screen. Be sure to place the wire in the spot where you want the watermark to appear. Often, watermarks are placed in the center of the page.

Tear scrap paper into small pieces. Most paper types can be recycled to make new paper. Avoid using papers that have come in to contact with food, have remaining staples or contain glue or plastic.

Place a handful of torn paper into the blender and fill it half full with water. Pulse paper in the blender for about 1minute. The paper will break down into pulp fibers.

Creating Homemade Paper

Fill the plastic container half-full with water. Add in a handful of the paper pulp and mix together.

Submerge the paper mold screen (with the wire watermark design attached) in the water and pulp mixture. Swirl it around to gather pulp on the screen. Lift the mold out of the mixture and balance it on top of the container. Allow excess water to drip from the screen into the container.

Lay a stack of newspapers on a table. Cover the stack with a dish towel or blotter paper. Place the drained screen on top of the dish towel, pulp side down.

Press the screen with a sponge to help absorb water. Press out the excess water until the screen lifts easily away from the newly made paper. Lift the screen away and place another dish towel or blotting paper on top of the handmade paper.

Roll the rolling pin back and forth over the covered paper until no more water seeps out of the paper. Place the towel-sandwiched paper on to the ironing board. Iron with a hot iron to dry the paper. Remove the blotting towels and hold dry paper up to the light. The watermark should be clearly visible. Repeat this process to create more pieces of handmade watermarked paper.

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