Christmas Challenge: Paper Pulp Ornaments

Good morning!  I’m so excited to share June’s Year Round Christmas Challenge project- it used glitter!  Maybe all my Christmas projects should involve glitter; they seem to get done quicker and closer to the 25th of each month.  But since I usually don’t do any Christmas projects before Thanksgiving, I’m excited to be finishing a project every month.  Even if it is only near the 25th.

Materials for recycled paper ornaments-maybe I need more glitter?

Like February’s project, June’s Christmas Challenge used glitter and was put off way too long.

Many Christmas’ ago, the kids got a kit for making recycled paper.  They used it some, but I always wanted to make Christmas cards or ornaments with it.  I am glad to make them this year, even if the kids aren’t interested in helping me.  At least they checked on my progress a few times.

In addition to using parts of the kit, I used items from around the house so anyone can be creative with recycled paper.  I used cookie cutters, my stick blender and a piece of window screen.

Before I started this project, the kids were very helpful this weekend and recycled for me.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten about my paper project.  It is not a good idea to have the kids recycle right before a project that uses old paper, newspapers and magazines. When I looked for paper to tear up, the recycling tubs were empty (except for milk jugs- we always have milk jugs!).

See the pile of plastic shreds? At least rest of paper is breaking down

Thankfully, when I went to get cookie cutters, I saw the paper shredder.  It was full!

Woo-Hoo!  Lots of paper!  It was already in small, little pieces, so I didn’t even have to tear it up!

Making Paper Pulp

To recycle old paper into new paper, first I needed to make paper pulp.  In a bucket, I mixed the shredded paper with hot water.

Stick blender worked great to break down paper pieces

4-6 large handfuls of shredded paper actually made a lot of pulp.  And did you know that plastic doesn’t break down into paper pulp?

Last time I shredded bills, I also shredded old insurance cards and old school id cards.  At least the plastic bits were easy to pick out as I squished the paper pulp.  I waited 15 minutes before squishing.  The middle one did help(?) by telling me to leave and wait 2 hours like the directions said.

I came back after 1 hour.  That was as long as I could wait!

This would be a great project for young children, especially ones who like messy, squishy things- like playing with mud and carving pumpkins.  It was fun, squishing the pulp and searching for more plastic bits.

Love the old cookie cutter shape, but it didn’t work!

I’m sure it would break down more, if I waited longer but I used the stick blender instead.  Definitely an adult part of the project, it is loud and sharp.  It did work great to make paper ‘soup’ though.

To make smooth-ish paper sheets, I was supposed to add lots of water and some paper pulp to a pan, like a cake pan.  Then, place the window screen in the bottom of the cake pan and lift while moving it back and forth to catch an even layer of pulp.

Molding, Unmolding and Pressing Paper Pulp

Since I wanted thick ornaments for the Christmas tree, I scooped the pulp into a cookie cutter and tried to unmold it onto the screen.  It didn’t work.  The pulp kept sticking to the cookie cutters.  When I pressed out the water, it just kept sticking.  Sometimes, half of the tree would come out but I really wanted a whole, glittery Christmas tree ornament.

Open cookie cutter worked much better, wish I had more shapes!

My snowman cookie cutter is open, so I scooped pulp into it while it was on the screen.  This worked a lot better, except I’m not sure about gray, glittery snowmen.

There was a press in the kit, but a piece of a cereal box also worked to flatten the shapes and press out some of the water.   I used the slick side of the box to press, since the wet pulp sticks to everything when you flatten it.

It even sticks to hands.  But I could carefully peel the paper pulp shape off of my hand and lay it on a grocery bag to dry.

Squishing the water out of the gray, glittery snowman

I did find a way to use my pretty, old cookie cutters.  I made  flattened circles.  Then, I used my cookie cutters and tore away the extra pulp to make shapes.  That’s how I finally made the star shapes, though the edges aren’t pretty and smooth.

I added green food coloring to the paper pulp, hoping to get green, glittery trees (or snowmen).  The water was pretty, but the food coloring didn’t absorb much into the pulp, just like the middle one said as he watched me.   Adding some colored, construction paper might have helped, but I didn’t think of it.

Hopefully, It Dries!

See the pretty green water? Ornaments are very pale, though

I wanted to transfer the ornaments to the window screen to dry, but there was a lot of paper pulp left when I was done making ornaments.

I decided to try one large sheet of recycled paper.  All the leftover pulp went outside, where I spread it on the screen. Then I pressed it with the cardboard, to get some of the water out.

This would be a great, messy outdoor project, especially since my window screen was big.  It didn’t fit into a cake pan when I scooped and pressed the watery pulp to make the new paper.

Lots of pulp left!  Maybe I can cut out some ornaments, if it ever dries

I’m not sure if my recycled ornaments or paper sheet will ever dry.

The rainy, humid weather is not helping at all.  Hopefully, I will find some sun to set it in later today.

Hopefully, soon I will also be able to update you on the dried glittery, recycled paper ornaments.  I have wanted to make these for a long time and I’m glad I finally did!

Recycled paper ornaments would be a great children’s project or a great, messy outdoor project.  They are frugal, easy and fun to make, especially with the open cookie cutters.   Maybe the grandbaby would like to play with the squishy paper pulp and make Christmas ornaments with me!  Hopefully,  you can find someone to make them with you, too!

Large sparkly piece in the back is the leftovers, I thought it would never dry!


***Update-The ornaments took 3-4 days to dry.  After 2 days, I was able to start flipping them over to encourage drying.  The 2 thin stars are stronger than I expected, but I still like the thicker ones better.  I had a hard time cutting the thick ornaments, so I left the edges rough and glued on a string hanger instead of using a paper punch.

I was super surprised when the large piece of paper dried in a week.  It just peeled right off the screen.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it since it is harder to cut smoothly, but the husband thought the rough sparkly piece would make the perfect ‘pond’ for the Christmas village!  I will be glad to not use a mirror with the grandbaby around!***

Happy Camping (or enjoying squishy, messy projects!)

Frugal Campasaurus

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