Home » Creativity Exercises » “I’ll have a plaid milkshake, please!”…

“I’ll have a plaid milkshake, please!”…

…Replies my comedian friend, Buddah Eskew, when I posted to my personal Facebook page last night about putting fabric in a blender. “…What were you trying to do?”, asks another friend and fellow textile artist, Rachel Suntop of CoolClimates.

I wanted to make paper

I don’t like just throwing away material when I think that they might still have some use. I have an entire bag that is just scrap materials, a big bag full of smaller bags – scrap lace, scrap cotton, scrap fleece, etc. Over the last week, I have been trying to think of ways to use them, because I need to do something with them or get rid of them – I’ve been carrying some of them around since high school! I honestly couldn’t tell you what made me think of paper, but once the thought was in my head, it wouldn’t leave. I was determined to make paper using scraps of fabric.

Hasn’t anyone made paper from fabric before?

Because I’d never made paper before, let alone from fabric, I needed to get a basic understanding of how to go about such an endeavor. So I hit up teh internets. While I found several different videos and pages on how to make paper using old papers, I couldn’t really find much on how to make paper from fabric – at least not in the DIY arena. (There do exist companies that make paper from resources other than commonly used wood pulp, Conservatree lists several sources, including Arch Paper which makes their paper from 100% post-consumer textiles, like unsold or used clothing.) So, I followed the basic instructions for using paper, but substituted fabric instead.

The Setup

What you will need: A Small Tub of Water; A Blender; A Screened Frame; Towels; A Bucket or Large Pot; An Iron; Paper and/or Fabric Scraps

The best video I saw was How to Make Paper: Basic Steps by Arnold Grummer.

Homemade screened frame

He makes it look so easy and quick. I mean, the video only lasts about 9 minutes and doesn’t really cut away. I’m kind of cheap and didn’t want to go spending money for a kit and I’m also impatient and didn’t want to hold off until a shipment came in, so I made my own frame from an old picture frame and some window screen. I spent just under $2 at The I.D.E.A. Store here in town. I basically took the glass and backing out of the frame and sewed a piece of window screen onto it with some crochet thread.

Making a Colossal Mess

Even though my fabric scraps were small to begin with, I did cut them into even smaller pieces. You want to try to cut in squares as strips can and do get caught up in the blades/ rotating unit. Since I only have the one blender, I was worried that it would jam up and burn out the motor. My blender did survive, but please be careful when and if you do this yourself. I put all the cut fabric into the blender, added water, and turned it on. It only took a second to get entangled in the blades. Getting the fabric pulp took a lot of back and forth between the blender and the pot because I’d have to stop every few seconds and pull out the fabric from the blades. I was also helping it along but going back and cutting the bigger globs of fiber into smaller chunks as I went. It takes about 30 seconds to make paper pulp in a blender, but it took me about 30 minutes to get the fabric pulp.

Making the Paper

Ultimately, I used a mixture of fabric pulp and paper pulp to actually make the paper. (That last thumbnail is the fabric/ paper mix) I don’t really know what the ratio was, I just threw in some paper. I eyeballed it until it looked about half and half.

I made a lot more pulp than I needed and wasn’t sure how much pulp I need to put into the frame to make 1 sheet. I played around with it for awhile. That’s all I can really say at this point, if you want to try this yourself, just play around with it until it looks good to you. For me, it really is a learning by experimentation thing.

After I took the frame out of the water tub, I set in on a towel. I then covered it with more window screen and another towel and proceeded to use the palms of my hands to flatten down on the layers and soak up some of the excess water. I let it set and dry overnight. It was still damp when I went to peel it off the frame, so I had to be a little careful. I set the sheet on the towel and used the iron to dry it out. I think it turned out fairly well. I only had one clump of fiber that didn’t get broken up all the way.

4 thoughts on ““I’ll have a plaid milkshake, please!”…

  1. i’ve only seen one other person try this, wish i could find the link for you! (they used old denim as the fibre.) Have you tested the paper yet with any work on it? I like the idea of your home made screen as well–shall have to whip one up myself

  2. So far, I only made the one sheet, for experimentation’s sake. The rest of the pulp has been in a ziplock bag in the freezer, haha. The one sheet came out rather nice and has a dozen scribbles all over it now, At some point, I will make more and make a little book, but I’ve got a dozen other things distracting me right now.

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