You've heard of recycling old paper, but what about making your own paper from bamboo?
Bamboo paper has been around for hundreds of years. It's eco-friendly and has a unique texture. Making it at home can be time-consuming but also rewarding.
If you're up for the challenge, read on!
Tools and Supplies
- Soda ash
- Enamel or stainless steel container
- Rubber gloves
- Safety goggles
- White felt squares (12-inch)
- 1 to 2 pounds of bamboo sheaths
- Rubber tub
- Mold and deckle
- Optional: Pieces of window glass or mirror
Collecting and Preparing Bamboo Fibers
Collect sheaths in the spring or early summer. Once they fall, they don't last long. Cut them into 1 to 2-inch pieces until you have a gallon or so.
Mix soda ash with water. For each quart of water, use about 1/2 ounce of soda ash. Boil this mix, then add the fibers. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Test a piece. If it tears easily, it's ready. Rinse it well to remove all the soda ash. The pH should be around 7.
Blend the fibers with water for about 10 seconds. Start slow, then go to medium speed. Check the fiber length by putting some in clear water. They should be fairly even.
Making Paper from Bamboo Pulp
Dilute the bamboo pulp in clean water. Use one part pulp to four parts water. Stir before you make each sheet of paper.
Wet your mold and deckle. Put the molds on top of the deckles and dip them in the pulp solution. Lift them up and shake them slightly to spread the fibers.
Let the water drain. This is your new sheet of bamboo paper!
Couching and Drying
Put your mold on a felt square and gently roll it down. This transfers the wet sheet onto the felt. This is called "couching." Layer multiple sheets this way, separated by felt.
Put plywood and weights on top. Wait 30 minutes to an hour. Then remove the weights and peel off the top felt layer.
For smooth paper, place each sheet on a glass and roll it. Then peel off the felt. Leave to dry.
Making paper from bamboo is a lot of work, but very rewarding. You can get creative and experiment with your paper's texture and thickness.
Hi there, I’m Sam Billings, and I’m all about sustainability. Running a printing business is my thing, but my real passion is preserving nature. That’s why I run the Live Health blog, where I focus on Bamboo plants and their eco-friendly goodness.