How to: make paper

Published 29 April 2021

Learn how to make your own paper from scratch using a photo frame, a pair of old tights and scrap paper.

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    Recycle your scrap

    This simple paper making technique is the perfect use for getting creative with all the scrap paper you have lying about. You could also try recycling old newspapers or wrapping paper and experiment with adding glitter, leaves or seeds!

    When you’ve finished, have a think – is your paper an artwork in its own right? Or will you write, draw or paint onto it?

    Paper has been used for centuries by writers and artists across the world, and was first invented in China in AD 105 where it was made from old rags, tree bark and fishing nets. The Royal Academy itself has over 30,000 works on paper in our collection!

    • What you need

      • Scrap paper

      • Water

      • Photo frame

      • Tights

      • Stapler

      • Blender

      • Tea towel

      • Sponge

      • Container

      How to make paper - materials
    • How to make paper - step 1

      Step 1

      Cut a small rectangle from the tights to fit your photo frame.

    • How to make paper - step 2

      Step 2

      With a regular stapler, fix the fabric to the frame to create a mould. You’ll need to open the stapler out as the frame will be too thick. The tights need to be pulled taut, but don’t worry if the fabric ladders!

    • How to make paper - step 3

      Step 3

      Tear the paper into small pieces.

    • How to make paper - step 4

      Step 4

      Add the shredded paper to a jug of water.

    • How to make paper - step 5

      Step 5

      Using a handheld blender, blend the mixture until it creates a pulp.

    • How to make paper - step 6

      Step 6

      Add the pulp and some extra water into a wide container.

    • How to make paper - step 8

      Step 7

      Slip the mould into the paper pulp and pan back and forth to ensure it is evenly spread across the frame. Then slowly lift it out and allow excess water to drain.

    • How to make paper - step 9

      Step 8

      Try adding areas of different coloured pulp.

    • How to make paper - step 11

      Step 9

      Carefully flip the mould onto a dry tea towel, with the pulp side facing down. With a dry sponge, gently absorb the excess water by sponging across the stretched surface of the mould.

    • How to make paper - step 12

      Step 10

      Peel away the mould and leave the pulp to dry.

    • How to make paper - step 13

      Step 11

      Once dry, carefully peel the paper away from the tea towel.

    • How to make paper - step 14

      Step 12

      Cut away the rough edges if you’d prefer a neat rectangle. Otherwise leave them as they are!

    • Admire your work!

      Is your paper an artwork in its own right? Or will you write, draw or paint onto it?

      Whatever you do, share your creations with us @royalacademyarts on Instagram and @royalacademy on Twitter using the hashtag #FamilyHowTo!

      How to make paper - step 15
    • Sculpture workshop for families

      Families at the RA

      Whether it’s a free drop-in workshop or one of our fun and engaging Art Detective trails, the RA is brimming with colourful paintings and sculptures that are waiting to be explored. Everyone is welcome at the RA – and kids under 16 go free to all our exhibitions.

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