Making Paper - DuPage Children's Museum

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August 3, 2018

By: Claire Reynes

Making handmade paper can be a fantastic at-home activity if you’re prepared with the right tools and materials! Below is a list of the absolute essentials that you’ll need for a day of papermaking fun, along with some fun extras and ideas for projects.

One of the things you’ll definitely need is a mould and deckle, which is what we use to catch and pull the pulp to form a sheet of paper. Professional mould and deckles can be very expensive and hard to find, but I’ve got a few easy tips for how to make your own that will cost you less than $20!

First, let’s break down the mould and deckle. This tool has two parts, which make up its name. The mould is the bottom part that has a frame, usually wood, with some kind of screening stretched over it. The deckle is the top part and is a frame of the same size as the mould. The deckle fits on top of the mould and it helps to keep the pulp contained on the screen and creates the edges of the paper. This is where the term “deckled edge” comes from!

You’ll want to collect all of your materials and feel free to use the shopping list here, but the great thing about hand papermaking is that it is so DIY and creative. There’s so much room for experimentation, and you’ll want to create a setup that works best for you and your space.

Materials for Mould and Deckle:

  • Wood frames from Michael’s ($1 each in the wood craft section) you’ll need to buy these in pairs – one for the top and one for the bottom. Make sure they are the same size
  • Foam weather stripping from Home Depot (about $3)
  • Duct tape from Home Depot (about $3)
  • Fiberglass window screening from Home Depot (about $8)
  • 2-part epoxy from Home Depot (about $5)
  1. On one of the frames (the one that will be your deckle) you’ll attach the weather strip around the opening in the frame. Cut four pieces of weather stripping – one for each side of the frame – and peel the paper from each strip of foam. Squeeze a straight line of epoxy onto the wood and secure the weather strip to the epoxy. Let this set overnight.
  2. On the other frame you’ll attach the window screening. Cut a piece of window screen that is at least one inch wider and one inch longer than the opening of your frame. I like to cut two pieces of screen for my mould to add a bit more support. Then tape the screen to the frame on all four sides using duct tape. You can further secure the screen with a staple gun if you’d like.
  3. Remember that the deckle is what determines the shape of your paper, so if you ever want to get creative with shapes, you can make different shape deckles using foam core or some other water-resistant material. Just make sure to cut the foam core down to the same size as your mould and then cut an opening in the middle in any shape you want.


Materials needed to make paper at home:

  • PULP: this can be recycled paper that you soak and hand beat using a mallet or meat tenderizer. You can also use a blender to break down the paper. Of course you can also always order ready-to-use pulp from a papermaking supplier like Twin Rocker or Carriage House
  • Vat: container to hold water and pulp
  • Mould and deckle
  • Interfacing: typically we use a heavyweight Pellon for this part, which you can find at Joann Fabrics, but you can also use an old cotton bed sheet cut down to rectangles just a little larger than the size of paper you are making. This is the surface where you transfer your paper from the mould to the post or stack of paper. This process is called couching.
  • Sponges and towels
  • Decorative materials – flowers, string, feathers, etc.


For more papermaking tips and tricks check out these amazing blogs and books!
Helen hiebert
The Papermakers Companion
Papermaking with Garden Plants

Learn more about Artist in Residences Claire Reyne.