Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DIY Plantable Seed Paper for Valentine's Day (or Any Day!)



This post is a guest share in collaboration with our partner blog, Green in Real Life.  Plantable papers make fun DIY materials for cards and gifts.  Want to try it?  Here is the scoop on how to make your own small-batch plantable seed paper.  For this example project, we cut and stamped basic free-formed seed paper (full how-to instructions below) into small Valentine's Day cards and seed-infused hearts; however, you can use the paper similar to construction-style paper for other printable craft projectsIt is not quite as strong as commercial paper, so keep that in mind when handling and using, and variations in the surface may create an uneven appearance for stamps or increase edge contact - not to worry, it is all part of the rustic look! It may also be thicker than some cutters or punches can handle.


Caution:  During the wet phase, this is messy business. Newsprint in particular will leave inky residue everywhere, so soak ASAP and do a full clean-up as quickly as possible.  Using glassware may help make cleaning a little easier.

  • Soak shredded paper in waterThe more robust the paper, the longer the soak - e.g. newsprint is ready very quickly, standard white paper takes a while longer to truly soften up.  
  • Once fully soaked and softened, puree the paper in water using a blender or food processor, pulsing first to break up the larger pieces and then pureeing.  
  • If tinting, transfer to a bowl, add dye (e.g. food colouring) and allow to sit for a while before proceeding to the next step. Newsprint will take on a grey hue when pureed and this will remain when dry and will darken any tint.  If you want white or a white base for a pale colour, you will need to work with a whiter paper product, such as standard paper.  If you want a particular tint, egg cartons often offer a nice pre-made pastel  base.
  • Mix your chosen small direct sow seeds with the pureed paper.  The amount of seed you should use will depend on your plans for the finished paper - a small amount works for a project you plant as a whole while a larger amount is needed for a project where the paper is cut or punched into smaller pieces in order to ensure that each piece is seed infused. In lieu of mixing in, you can also pat them into the surface after pouring (see below) for controlled distribution or do a little bit of both. 
  • Dilute with water if/as needed to get a nice free-flowing uniform pulpy mixture.
  • Set up your a stiff or well-supported screen material.  Paper can be made in sheets (frame or freehand) or you can pre-shape using customised frames.  Window screens, mesh attached to an old picture frame, or mesh through an embroidery hoop all make easy screens with built in frames for shaping. Cookie cutters make fun mini-frames and you can even use shaped muffin/ice cube molds to make "seed bombs" but will need to hand sponge excess moisture from the latter in lieu of press and drain. You can also forgo frames all together and free-form using mesh placed directly on a permeable surface, like your lawn - my personal favourite - easy peasy!
  • Over a suitable drainage location, pour the mixture onto/into your screen, trying to ensure an even distribution. Ink from the paper and/or tinting may stain surfaces, so drain with care. I like to work outside, but if this isn't an option, use a suitable laundry sink or set-up a large plastic container to make a handy catch basin for pouring and draining.
  • Press to remove excess moisture.  You can do this by hand or a rolling pin is also handy if you need help pressing or flatting your pulp. If working outside, this can be done directly on over your lawn, or it can be done on any surface if you protect it with a suitable layer of rags/old towels to catch the moisture including any ink/dye carried with it.  
  • Optional: You may, if you wish, remove from the screen onto another firm breathable drying surface.  If your paper is well pressed, it will turn out if your screen is inverted with care.  You can also allow to dry on your mesh - this is the simplest approach when free forming as removal of dry paper from a frame isn't a concern.
  • Allow to dry thoroughly before use. This will take approximately 24hours (give or take) in a warm dry area. If you have a little residual moisture, pressing between dry towels using a warm (not hot - remember you have seeds in there!) iron can help. If you paper is dry but a little wonky or curved/cupped, you can press it under a heavy object (e.g. a stack of heavy books) to help flatten before use.

 

Our example Valentines shown in this post were made using free-formed seed paper (as above and, if you're curious, we used viola seeds) in a combination of natural newsprint, pink tinted newsprint, natural white, and pink tinted white so you can see a variety of example papers.  Our papers were cut to suit our stamp shapes, corners rounded for a slightly more  finished look, and we stamped a variety of designs in Valentine pink with complimentary accents of garden-friendly green.  Small off-cuts and extras were punched to make a jar of plantable hearts - great present or favour idea!  If you have extra off-cuts or leftovers, simply plant them yourself. :)

I have a bit of a flower-fetish going on at the moment, and have been creating a whole variety of different flower-power inspired DIYs to share with you every Wednesday (our new DIY day in the weekly blog plan) from now through to Valentine's Day.  Stay tuned for more!

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