Sunday, February 04, 2007

Homemade Valentines

A few days ago I received notice from my children's elementary school regarding the number of of Valentine cards we need to send with our children. Ugh - I hate feeding into the commercialization of this holiday.

At the same time, I was preparing a lecture for my History of Graphic Design students about the invention of paper and writing, and was teaching Madison at home about ancient history and the Stele of Hammurabi.

The Stele of Hammurabi was a very important historical piece of work, as it was the first written record of laws for a civilization.

Madison and I spoke about the importance of this invention, but also about the difficulty of having something so large and heavy. Paper had not been invented yet, so all written pieces of history, law, literature, myth, etc had to be written on clay or stone tablets. One piece of literature could take 13 acres.

While all of this was happening, the Urban Sustainable yahoo group was discussing ways to reduce waste. Paper seems to be a problem in my household. Suddenly I had a eureka moment. Why not tackle a few things at once:

  • reduce paper waste
  • teach Madison (history and science)
  • create valentine cards for the school
What did we do? We made paper!

The kids gathered up a bunch of scrap paper from sketches, old school work. drawings and the like. We tore everything up into small pieces.

We then put the scraps of paper into a freecycled blender and added water. Of course, I explained that blenders did not exist in early China. Instead a mortar and pestle would have been used to break down the fibers of wood into pulp.

We added a little color for fun. It wasn't until later that we realized that the blue marker was also coloring the water. Oops - purple instead of pink.

We put the pulp mix into a container and added water

I made a frame and mold out of items for cross-stitching- otherwise an old frame and screen will work.

Place the contraption into the pulp mix and cover it with the pulp. At this point the kids also added some hand made hearts.

Lift it out and use a soft white material (felt/flannel) onto the pulp side. Gently press to release water.

Turn it over (the pulp is face down). and continue sopping up the water (a sponge works well).


Once it can gently be removed from the frame it can be hung or placed out to dry.

14 comments:

liv said...

Wonderful idea and a great, creative way to involve kids in rethinking and reusing materials rather than consuming new ones. I just received a blender through Freecycle and I have been saving junk mail to try papermaking with a friend.

Moonwaves said...

Great idea. I have a pile of paper to shred and I think I will try this with it. If it works out well I may even consider making some sets of paper for birthday presents this year.

turnip said...

That is an awesome idea! I too can't stand how commercial even the schools are getting, I think you tought a great lesson...

gtr said...

Yay! I've made alot of paper in my day, with groups of kids or just on my own. Try adding cattail fluff: it makes great, cloth-like paper. Milkweed fluff is fun, too: it stays shiny for a long time. Add it at the last minute, no power blending.

Watch out for the blender, though: it's hard on the motor. I always look for sturdy-looking old blenders at garage sales to dedicate to paper projects...

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