In this lesson plan we demonstrate how to make handmade paper using waste paper. By following this lesson plan you get a step by step guide to the technique of papermaking.

Papermaking is thought to have begun in China in about AD105 and making paper by hand today uses a similar process to that used by the early papermakers. Fibres are beaten down with water to produce a pulp into which a mould and deckle are dipped. The mould is a frame with a mesh and the deckle is an open frame that stops the pulp running off the mould. After dipping the mould is couched onto damp cloth or felt. Couching just means to lay down a sheet of paper. At this point you can apply pressure to remove the water and then sheets are separated and laid out or hung up to dry.

Papermaking is a simple ancient process with lots of possibility for experimentation as soon as you master the basics. This lesson plan uses low cost materials and everyday equipment that you should be able to put your hands on fairly easily.

Key Stage:

KS 2,3&4 Art and Design


This lesson plan can be used:
To start a project on papermaking and recycling.
To develop ideas and understanding of processes and materials.
As part of study of any artist using hand made paper in their work.
As part of individual study

Making paper

This film will lead you through how to make your own paper. What you will need. How to make a mould and couching your paper. Watch the film and make a list of what you already have and what you might need to find.
<b>Drying the paper</b>

Drying the paper

When it comes to drying the paper you have a number of options not covered in our short video. We demonstrate making a number of sheets of paper one on top of each other. You can dry the sheets separately by peeling away the cloths and laying out on sheets of newspaper. You can press the paper by laying out on newspaper and putting a board and a weight on top to squeeze out the water. This will quicken the drying and give a flatter sheet but you may get the texture of the cloth on your paper.

Using your handmade paper

Now you have sheets of handmade paper what can you do with them?

Watch this video to get some ideas for making cards. Simple and low cost.

Susan Cutts

Susan is an artist who makes all her work from handmade paper. Learn from the professionals and see just what is possible.

If you are interested in making your own paper we strongly recommend you watch the film about sculptor and papermaker Susan Cutts. She is one of the finest exponents of the skill working in Britain today and in her film she talks about her work and her process of papermaking.

Development Activity:

There are other resources on CultureStreet that can be used to support this lesson plan. 

There is more about recycling and sustainability in this lesson plan. Climate Change and Sustainability

This short video shows a whole class from a London primary school making a large mosaic of a turtle using discarded plastics inspired by a visit to the British Museum and David Attenborough. Tree of Life

Learning Objectives:

Pupils should increase their proficiency in the handling of different materials.
In addition students can gain knowledge and understanding of the work and approaches of artists, craftspeople or designers from contemporary and/or historical contexts, periods, societies and cultures.
Students can refine their ideas as work progresses through experimenting with media, materials, techniques and process.

Research, Notes and Links:

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