It’s hard to think of spring with all this frigid winter weather hanging around but how about you warm up someone’s heart this February with a handmade Valentine infused with thoughts of spring! Everything you need to make your own recycled seed paper Valentine is probably stashed somewhere in your kitchen as we speak. Have a paper shredder? Then you’re already halfway there! Turn that old paper back into paper pulp, mix in some wildflower seeds, and you’ve got plantable paper and a handmade gift for everyone in your address book. I promise you, it’s just that easy! Here’s what you’ll need:
Materials for Seed Paper:
- Large bowl
- Medium bowl
- Hot water
- Shredded paper
- Slotted spoon
- Paper mix-in’s (mica flakes, bits of twine, dried petals, etc) *Optional
- Food coloring *Optional
- Small seeds (lavender, coreopsis, coneflower, etc)
- Glass measuring cup
- Screen of some kind (I made mine from an embroidery hoop and tulle fabric)
- Heart shaped cookie cutter
- Dish towel
Materials for Cards:
- Plain white cards and envelopes
- Something to poke holes such as an awl
- Seed paper planting instructions (click to open up a window to print from)
- 1/8″ ribbon
- All purpose glue or tape runner
1. Place shredded (or torn) paper into a large bowl and fill with warm water. Let the paper sit in the bath for an hour or so or overnight. The longer the paper can sit in the bath the smoother the pulp will be.
2. Once the paper has soaked, scoop it out using a slotted spoon and place the paper into the blender. Fill the blender with clean warm water.
3. Now is when the mix-in’s are added to the paper. For this project I used mica flakes specifically marketed for paper making but feel free to experiment with anything from scraps of fabric and cut up twine to dried flower petals and food coloring.
*A note on food coloring The food coloring has to sit and absorb into the paper pulp in order to hold a color. For this project I did not let it sit so the affect is just a slight pastel hint of color as opposed to a deep red.
4. Blend the paper shreds and mix-in’s until a smooth pulp forms. If the paper isn’t moving freely around the blender add more water.
5. Once the pulp is thoroughly pureed, pour it into a clean bowl and add more water if necessary to achieve a smooth broth consistency.
6. Next, prepare the drain screen. Paper making screens can be purchased or use a window screen, flat kitchen strainer, or as I did, make one yourself! Tulle fabric from my studio plus an old embroidery hoop equals the perfect DIY paper making screen. Place the screen on top of a bowl to catch the drained liquid from the paper pulp and place your cookie cutter on top of the screen.
7. Pour about 1/4 cup of pulp into the measuring cup and mix in some seeds.
8. Pour the pulp into the cookie cutter to a thickness of about 1/4″. If necessary, spread the pulp out with your finger and press down on it to help the water drain out. Remove the cookie cutter.
9. Flip the screen over onto a dish towel and press down with a second dish towel to squeeze out excess water. Remove the screen and repeat steps 7 through 9 to make as many seed paper hearts as you need.
*Keep in mind that the hearts will retain the texture of whatever they’re sitting on. My dish towels have a deep texture so after they sat for a few minutes I gently moved them to a work table with no texture.
10. Let the hearts sit overnight or if time is a factor then gently place a heart between two pieces of cotton muslin and iron until the heart is completely dry.
11. To make the cards center a dry seed paper heart in the center of the front flap and poke two holes using an awl.
12. Thread ribbon through the holes and tie into a neat bow. Next, cut out the planting instructions and glue or tape them into the inside of the card over the visible ribbon.
Now go and make somebody’s day with a handmade Valentine surprise in the mail that will get their spring juices flowing!
Lucy Blaire has written for countless craft magazines including Sew News, Stitch, Simply Handmade, and ReadyMade; she has appeared on PBS’s Sew It All TV; writes for her blog, East Camp Home; and runs her Etsy shop, Lucy Blaire Handmade. With what little time is left Lucy can be found living quietly in Catskill, NY with her husband Ben and baby Marian in their little house with the red tin roof.