The GD team recently participated in our second annual GDx day! The GDx experience is inspired by Bill Gates’ annual Think Week. Each GD employee is given a “Thinking Day” — a day away from work to research a subject they are curious about. This is a rare opportunity for self-care, achieved by exploring something new, without interruption.

First up, our Designer/Illustrator Megan Tracy tackles paper making

I’m always on the hunt for sustainable practices and ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. In my household, we go through a lot of eggs. Though we try to give some of the cartons to a woman who repurposes them for her own chicken’s eggs, she doesn’t take all of them. So, I’ve been trying to think of ways to reuse the extras and the broken cartons without just plopping them in the recycling and hoping they get recycled. Thus, came the paper idea! 

After some research, I grabbed the following items to use for this experiment in paper making:

  1. Two 8”x10” pictures frames 
  2. Window Screen (I grabbed an old window from Habitat for Humanity’s Restore, not my own window) 
  3. Staple gun
  4. Egg cartons and scrap paper
  5. Old Blender 
  6. A Large Storage Bin 
  7. Sponge 
  8. Bed sheet

Making a mould and deckle:
To start, I made a mould and deckle to shape the paper. The mould is a frame covered with metal or nylon mesh, and the deckle is the frame that sits on top of the mould. To create this, I took out the glass and backing of both picture frames. Once that was done, I cut down the window screen so that I could stretch it across one of the picture frames. I stretched it across the back of one picture frame and stapled it to all four sides. The other frame will stay as is and be the mould. Next, I focused on the paper…

Making the paper:
To start, I ripped and/or cut up the paper and egg cartons into small pieces and let them soak overnight. Once that was done, I broke out the ol’ blender! Placing one or two handfuls of cartons into the blender at a time with enough water to cover them, I blended them to a pulp. After, I dropped some pulp into a large storage bin. I added more water to the pulp, to make sure it was thin enough. I then did a practice pull of the paper and readjusted the pulp thickness. This was the point in the process where I tried adding string, dried flowers, and other random materials to the water before pulling paper. 

Now that my mixture was ready, I pulled together the mould and deckle and pulled the first piece of paper. I waited for the water to drain out, removed the mould, and then flipped the deckle (paper side down) onto a bed sheet. While it’s still on the sheet, I sponged out the excess water. After that, I slowly removed the deckle and the paper stayed on the sheet. 

Once I pulled all of the sheets of paper, I let them sit for a few days to dry. To make them more flat, I placed the dry pieces of paper under stacks of books (very high tech). 

In the end, I managed to use up all of the egg cartons and got 24 pieces of paper—YAY. Though, next time, I would add more water to the pulp to make the paper thinner.

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