paper pulp

How to: Adding sizing to handmade paper

sizing for handmade paper

Here's a recent question about sizing and handmade paper from one of my customers:

So I've now purchased 2 of your molds, they're perfect! I love making paper! But I do have a question- I'm a calligrapher and when I went to write on what I created, the ink bled like mad. I did add liquid starch to the pulp, I'm guessing it wasn't enough? Do you have any tips or tricks to help? Thank you so much in advance!

Thank you for loving our mold and deckles!  So happy to hear that!

What are you using for pulp?  If you are recycling paper that already had sizing in it - like printer paper, stationary, or any previously "printed on" paper, the ink shouldn't bleed.  However, if you are using natural plant material for pulp, or a significant proportion of cotton linters, sizing is needed.  Liquid starch like you used is a very good option - however the amount needed depends on the type of pulp, so it takes a bit of trial and error.  It sounds like you need to use more, but sorry I can't be more precise!

Another option is to apply an external sizing - to actually paint a gelatin sizing onto the sheet of handmade paper. There are excellent directions in Helen Hiebert's The Papermaker's Companion book.   I've done this with rustic paper I make with blender flax and recycled brown grocery bags and it worked perfectly. 

Finally, you can purchase sizing for paper making, and just follow the supplier's directions.   I have used sizing from Twin Rocker Papermaking supplies that worked well. 

There you have it!  Please feel free to ask any other paper making questions you might have, or add your own tips. 

Happy papermaking!



Sources of used paper for making handmade paper


Here at Wooden Deckle our papermaking kits are geared towards making handmade paper by recycling used paper. All of us have so much of it on hand!

As a rule of thumb, the better the quality of paper used, the better the handmade paper pulp.  Good sources of used paper to are:

  • computer/printer paper
  • envelopes
  • old stationary
  • greeting cards
  • paper bags
  • maps
  • sheet music (it’s so nice to see musical notes showing up in the handmade paper!)
  • wrapping paper
  • cardstock
  • junk mail

It’s best to avoid recycling:

  • newspapers or newsprint paper with a lots of ink, i.e. paper that was heavily printed on
  • glossy magazines construction paper (the colors quickly fade)

By making handmade paper from the myriads of paper we go through every day, we preserve our natural resources, and avoid the use of caustic chemicals needed to break down natural plant fibers. 

Next week I’ll share how to add color to your recycled handmade paper pulp.

Happy Creating!