Thursday, May 17, 2018

Homeschool Art Lesson: Making Paper From Nature

Last week I posted a homeschool art lesson on teaching kids how to use a sketchbook with art making. Using a sketchbook is an important fundamental skill in art making so I teach that lesson multiple times throughout the year. When it comes to teaching art lessons I like to teach the basics as a good foundation, then add some fun projects to introduce new skills. My hope is that my children will remember bits and pieces of these lessons over time,  and will be able to use these techniques in future projects and creating. I don't think they need to grow up to be artists, but I do believe that art lessons will promote creative thinking which is useful in any field. 

In my journey homeschooling my kids I want to help my them develop a strong appreciation for nature, in my attempt to do this I often blend my curriculum with outdoor exploring. Trying to blend art and nature brought me to the lesson I want to share today.

Making Paper From Nature

This lesson requires little store bought supplies which I love because teaching  can get pricey. The only thing I would suggest to buy is a blender from the thrift store... it's not a good idea to use your kitchen blender with art projects... other than that all supplies can be made or found at home. 

Supplies Needed:
  • Blender
  • Dish bin or tub
  • Sponges
  • Towel
  • Deckle from old picture frame (or make your own frame)
  • Screen
  • Newspaper
  • Dried natural materials
  • Warm water
  • drying rack or old window screen (If you don't have this just dry them on a towel)

You will need to make a deckle, which is a frame used for paper making. To make this take an old picture frame remove the glass and tightly staple old window screen to cover the opening. I didn't have a frame to I staple gunned pieced of 1x1 pine together to make an 8x10 frame. I chose 8x10 because I like that size but make whatever size you want. The only requirement is that it fits inside your dish bin.

This lesson can take as much or as little time as you want it to. We did this lesson in two parts hiking and supply finding one day, then paper making a different day.

Step 1: Go on a hike and find your materials this can be done anywhere outside that you can gather natural dried materials. The things we looked for are leaves, bark, dried grasses and flowers. This project will work best with dried materials if you want to use anything green that will require boiling to break down the fibers. 

Step 2: Set up supplies. This can get a bit sloppy so we went outside but it can be done indoors too. My handmade deckle is in the bottom left.

Step 3: Blend up materials. Cut up all materials on 1 inch pieces to keep your blender happy. Add warm water to the blender after your materials are in just enough o make your ingredients float.

Step 4: Pour Mix into the dish pan. Depending on your bin size you may need two pours. 

Step 5: Place your deckle into your bin and make sure your screen is covered with the mix. There should be a layer that is thin and even, but thick enough that there aren't any holes. This project is good for younger kids too as a fun sensory project. I did it with kids ages 3, 6, and 9.

Step 6: Pull your deckle out of your mixture and carefully sponge off any extra water trying not to tear the paper. If it does tear place it back a=in the bin and swish it around to close the gaps. 

Step 7: Carefully and quickly tip the deckle over on your screen (he screen should be on top of a towel), and sponge off any remaining water.

Step 8: Set your paper out to dry on top of the screen. Air should be able to get underneath the screen.

Once your paper is dry it is fun too look for pieces of the materials that were added to it.

We added newspaper to some of our patches which changed the texture and gave us different elements to hunt for once it was dry. We also pressed a feather into a piece and added dandelions and wool from our sheep to see what would happen. This is a fun project to experiment with, some papers will turn out better than others and some materials produce nicer textures, you just need to play with it.

These papers ended up pretty rough so they are not good for writing on. I often use these papers for art journals or collages instead but they can be nice just leaving them as it. You can find more of my art journals with handmade paper on my Instagram

I hope you like today's lesson! 


  1. The last image is gorgeous! What a cool way to use homemade paper. I'll definitely keep that idea in mind :)