How to Make Your Own Glow in the Dark Paper
REDUCE - REUSE - RECYCLE - GLOW!
Follow artist Enface step-by-step to transform your scrap papers into new sheets of upcycled and unique handmade paper using our glow in the dark powders and a few other materials! This is a fun project for the whole family - kids will have tons watching their drawings come to life as the lights go off and their paper shines bright! It's also a great way to teach about recycling and upcycling.
Here's what you'll need:
- Glow in the dark powder
- Scrap paper
- Warm water
- Large bowl
- Mixing utensil
- Measuring spoon for glow powder
- Sheet mold for making the paper (or plastic needlepoint canvas and a frame)
- Clothes iron
- Bowl or dish that is large enough to hold the sheet mold
- Plastic tablecloth (optional)
STEP 1: Gather Your Materials
The key bit of equipment you need for making paper is the sheet mold. You can make a simple mold with a picture frame and a piece of plastic needlepoint canvas cut to fit inside the frame. If you want to give the surface of your finished paper a finer texture, cut a similar-sized piece of plastic or wire window screening and lay it on top of the plastic canvas in the frame.
You can use all types of scrap paper to make the paper pulp, including office paper, newspaper, junk mail, envelopes, wrapping paper or unused napkins/paper towels (do NOT use paper that has a shiny coat or wax on it). For the brightest-glowing paper, use white paper with no ink on it. Remove any staples or bits of plastic. Cut or tear the scrap paper into small pieces, or run it through a paper shredder. Place the scrap pieces in a large bowl of warm water (2 handfuls of these paper scraps typically yields 1 sheet of glow paper).
Let the scraps of paper soak for at least 15 minutes to an hour or more to soften the paper.
To prepare a basic pulp, place a handful or two of soaked paper and about 2 cups of water in a blender. Put on the lid and blend the ingredients for 15-30 seconds - this will produce a chunky liquid. If the mixture is thick and pasty, add more water and blend for another 10-15 seconds.
Blend your glow in the dark powder into your paper pulp. We'd recommend using about 7 grams of glow powder for every handful of soaked paper when blending the pulp, but there is ample room for experimentation here. The glow powder is what will produce the glow in the dark effect once it's been charged!
Paper-making can get a bit messy, so set up your workspace outside if you can or you can cover your workspace with a tablecloth or shower curtain. Place a bowl, dish, or tray directly in front of you that's large enough to hold the sheet mold. Be sure to have your dry towel laid out nearby!
Pour about half of the blended pulp over the screening in your sheet mold, then use the back of a spoon to spread the pulp evenly. Take it all the way to the edges of the frame if you want your paper to have straight sides, or leave the edges ragged if you like the rustic look. Add more pulp as needed to fill in any thin spots. When the screen is covered, lift the mold and tilt it a bit to let more of the water drain off.
Set one side of the sheet mold on dry towel, then flip the mold over completely. Lift the frame of the mold, leaving the screening in place, and set it aside. Starting from the middle and working out to the edges, press firmly on the screening with a sponge to flatten the paper and draw out more of the water, then remove the screening.
With one hand at each end, pick up the towel holding the damp piece of finished paper, and set it in a ventilated area to being drying. After a few hours, gently peel the sheet of paper from the towel, then set it on a drying rack or hang it on a clothesline to finish drying. If the paper curls or warps as it dries, place some heavy books on it to flatten it.
Between creating each sheet, rinse any clinging pulp off of the mold frame and screening. It's a good idea to set a bowl or pan in your sink to catch the rinse water because paper pulp can easily clog the drain. When you're finished, dump the rinse water and any remaining pulp outside on your compost pile or in your garden.