Sairshe and I made some handmade seed paper hearts last weekend for her to give to her pre-k classmates. It was so fun and easy and I hope the kids really plant them and grow flowers! Here’s a tutorial to inspire you to make your own paper. It’s the best way to use up what would otherwise fill your recycling bin.
Update: To see how we planted these and how the flowers grew, see this post.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- paper (junk mail, computer paper, construction paper, etc.)
- hot water
- a blender (preferably not one you use for food)
- papermaking screen (I used a piece of metal window screen stapled to a simple wooden frame)
- absorbent towels
- heart shaped cookie cutter (optional)
1. Start by tearing your paper into smallish pieces. This is a great job for a youngster. Don’t worry if your paper has printing or color on it. It’ll likely all turn to a light gray color. You can add colored paper to make it whatever color you want.
2. Add hot water. I heated water in my kettle and added almost enough to cover the paper.
3. Blend until your paper turns to mushy pulp. This took only a few seconds.
After this photo was taken, I added scraps of colored construction paper to the blender and mixed again. It only took a small handful of red scraps to turn it a pretty pink color.
4. Pour your paper pulp into a large bowl or other container and admire the pretty colors you’ve created.
5. Mix in your flower seeds of choice. I used marigolds because they’re easy to grow and I want the little 4 and 5 year olds to have success growing their flowers.
6. I did the next steps outside so I didn’t have to worry about dripping all over. Place the heart cookie cutter on the screen and spoon in some of the paper pulp. Press it with your fingers or the back of the spoon to squish out some of the water.
7. Carefully remove the cookie cutter, leaving behind your heart-shaped paper.
8. Carefully flip your screen over, placing it upside down onto a towel. This sounds scary but my experience was that the paper pulp really gripped the screen and stayed in place, even upside down. Your paper is now sandwiched between the screen and the towel.
9. Take a second towel and press on top of the screen to absorb excess water.
10. Lift up the screen, revealing your flattened paper. Carefully lift it up and place on a cookie sheet to dry. You’ll see that one side has a screen pattern imprinted into it. This will be the flatter of the two sides. The other side will likely be a little more textured.
11. Depending on the thickness of your paper they make up to a day to dry fully. Give to your Valentine, along with planting instructions. Sairshe glued hers to cardstock and added a little poem we made up.