How to Make Papyrus

Long before paper was invented, the Egyptians devised a method of producing a kind of early version of paper known as papyrus. In fact, the word “paper” is derived from the Greek word “papyrus.” Even with the advent of the digital age, the societies of our world continue to rely heavily on paper and ink for the majority of their operations. Making papyrus is a useful skill to have, even though paper can be purchased. It also feels good to be able to create your own paper. To make papyrus, you must first prepare the plant, then make the papyrus, and finally finish the process properly in order to achieve the best possible result.

Part 1 Preparing to Make Papyrus

1. Obtain a papyrus plant for your use. Papyrus paper is made from the Cyperus papyrus plant, which is a reed that is both lightweight and strong. You can purchase them either online or from local nurseries. A nursery that specialises in papyrus, on the other hand, would be your best bet.

River reeds, for example, can be used to make the paper as well as other types of broad grasses.

Choose a papyrus plant with a strong, healthy stalk, as this will be the part of the plant that you will use to make paper.

2. Remove the stalks from the plants. A papyrus plant with a diameter of approximately 12 inches (30 cm) will yield a large piece of paper with a length of nearly 24 inches (61 cm). Trim the stalks to the number of pieces you’ll need to make the amount of paper you’d like. The cuts must be made in a diagonal fashion. After that, trim the ends of the papyrus. The tips of the plant, which are the thinner, grass-like end of the plant, will not be used.

Strong scissors or pruners should be used.

3. Remove the outer layer of the papyrus plant by peeling it away. Only the innermost portion of the plant is utilised in the production of the paper. You will need to cut away the outer green part of the plant to complete the task. To remove the outer layer of the plant, use a sharp knife to slice it down the length of the plant until it is completely removed. If the plant is white or slightly greenish on the inside, it is considered healthy.

Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a sharp knife, you can use scissors.

Ask a friend or family member to assist you with the peeling process if you are uncomfortable using a sharp knife for the slicing.

4. Using a sharp knife, cut the inner portion into strips. Making use of the same knife that you used to cut away the outer portion, cut the inner layers of the papyrus plant (pith) into thin strips with the knife you used to remove the outer portion. Vertically cut towards yourself while holding the plant in your hand. Check to see that all of the strips are the same size and thickness as one another.

It is common for the best strips to be found near the centre of the plant’s growth. The lowest quality is found in the outermost layers of the tree.

If you don’t feel comfortable cutting towards your body, you can also choose to cut away from your body as an alternative.

If you want to make smaller sheets of paper, you can cut the strips into smaller pieces.

Part 2 Making the Papyrus

1. Place the strips of papyrus plant in a container of water. Prior to turning the plant into papyrus, you must first release some natural glue-like chemicals from the plant’s interior, which must be released before the plant can be turned into papyrus. Allow them to soak in the water for a minimum of three days. Try to lay them out flat in a tray of water to soak for as long as possible. Make sure to place the tray in a location where the water will not evaporate quickly.

The strips should become more flexible and transparent as time goes on.

2. Placing the papyrus plant strips on a hard, flat surface is the first step. Initially, the pattern is irrelevant because you will be rearrange them later on in the process. Simply lay them out on a hard, flat surface, making sure they do not overlap one another.

It is sufficient to use a smooth, non-tiled countertop or a sturdy table.

3. Excess water and sugar should be rolled out of the plant. Take a rolling pin and use it to flatten the strips as much as possible. With the rolling pin, you should be squeezing the excess water out of the strips and flattening them into sheets.

In the past, papyrus strips were pounded with a hard object to remove excess water from the material.

4. Make a tangle out of the strips. Place the strips of fabric on the cloth. Get a clean sheet of linen cloth or felt to lay down on the floor. Then you can start weaving them together. Create two layers of strips, with the top layer strips being perpendicular to the bottom layer strips, and place them on top of each other. It should have the appearance of a placemat. A small amount of overlap between the strips will prevent the papyrus from falling apart later on in the process.

After you’ve finished weaving the papyrus strips together, cover them with a second sheet of linen cloth to keep them from drying out.

5. Placing the bundle between two wooden boards will help it stay together. Make certain that the wooden boards have a reasonable amount of weight. It is necessary to apply pressure to the papyrus strips in order to flatten them together. The strips should be sandwiched between the boards, and then they should be pressed together. Lay the sandwiched papyrus sheet on a flat surface and allow the wooden boards to flatten the sheet as a result of gravity pulling it down.

If the boards aren’t too heavy, you can stack heavy books on top of them to make them more stable.

6. Replace the wet linen sheets with dry linen sheets as soon as possible. You should repeat this procedure every few hours. When it comes to removing the wet linen, exercise caution. Gently peel it off the papyrus with your fingers. It is expected that the drying process will take approximately 72 hours.

Part 3 Finishing the Papyrus

1. Make the sheet as flat as possible. It is possible that the paper will not be completely flat after it has been removed from the wooden boards. Place the paper under a stone slab for up to 6 days to ensure that it is completely smooth.

During this time period, the sugars contained within the papyrus will combine.

If you’re pressed for time, you can flatten the paper with a rolling pin instead of your hands.

2. Polish the papyrus until it is shiny. It is not absolutely necessary to complete this step; however, it will make the papyrus look nicer and more finished in the end. Make use of a smooth piece of ivory or a shell. Any type of shell that is smooth and free of ridges will suffice for this project. In order to make the sheet of paper appear shinier, rub it over the shell or ivory until it appears to be.

It is also possible to use a smooth stone.

Do not use excessive force when rubbing the paper; otherwise, the paper may rip.

3. Using scissors, cut the paper. When the sheet is finished, it may turn out to be larger than you anticipated. Smaller sheet sizes of papyrus can be achieved by cutting with a razor, scissors, or paper cutter. Measure the sizes you’ll be cutting so that you’ll have multiple sheets of the same size when you’re finished.

It is possible to make a notebook out of the sheets of paper that you have just created.

Part 4 Making Papyrus with Children

1. Newspaper and paper towels should be used to cover the table surface. Cover the table or whatever surface you intend to use to make the paper with newspaper before you begin. When working with children, the process can become a sloppy mess. This will make cleanup a lot less difficult. Once the surface has been completely covered with newspaper, place a paper towel on top of it.

The base layer of the papyrus will be made of a piece of paper towel.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the glue and water. 12 cup (120 mL) of glue should suffice. Any type of white glue that is liquid in consistency will work. After that, fill the bowl with 12 cup (120 mL) of water. The contents should be stirred with a spoon until they reach a runny consistency.

When making two sheets of paper, pour 1 cup (240 mL) of each glue and water into a cup (240 mL).

3. Tear paper bags into strips with your hands. You will need to use two brown paper lunch bags for this project. Tear the bags into 12 in (1.3 cm) wide strips, but make sure the strips are as long as possible. Strips of paper should be torn as long as you want the paper to be. To tear the strips, you can use your hands, or you can use scissors to cut them.

For every two sheets of paper you intend to make, you should use four brown paper bags.

Tearing the strips instead of cutting them is preferable because the ripped edges will fuse together better and result in a smoother surface than cutting them.

4. The strips should be dipped into the glue and water mixture. Each strip should be dipped separately. Keep the strips as flat as possible when you’re dipping them in the sauce. Make certain that the strips are completely submerged in the mixture.

Remove any excess glue from the strips by rubbing them between your index and middle fingers. As with papier mâché, you want the strips to be saturated but not dripping with paint when you’re finished.

5. Lay the strips out in a vertical fashion. After you’ve dipped each strip in the mixture, arrange them next to each other on top of the paper towel to set them. You should arrange them in a vertical fashion. The strips should have a slight overlap when laid out.

Check to see that the top and bottom edges are aligned before continuing. There should be no slanting or crookedness to them whatsoever.

6. Prepare the second half of the strips by laying them out. Once the first half of the strips has been laid out vertically, you can start laying out the second half of the strips horizontally. Lay the strips out horizontally, one on top of the other, and on top of the vertical strips.

Using the horizontal strips over and under the vertical strips, you can achieve a more authentic look, much like you would when making a basket or woven rug.

7. Make the paper as smooth as possible. Once all of the strips have been laid out, press the paper with your hands to make it more rigid. Remove any excess air or glue bubbles by smoothing them out. Continue to do so until the paper is smooth and flat (about 10 minutes).

Work your way from the centre of the paper outward to the edges by starting in the middle. Separate your hands first horizontally, then vertically, starting with the horizontal.

8. Allow for the drying of the paper. Continue to place the paper on top of the paper towel and newspaper until it is completely dry. It should take approximately 8 hours to dry completely. Following drying time, carefully peel the paper away from the newspaper.

Most likely, the paper towel will be stuck to the back of your papyrus, which is fine because it will be hidden in the back.

If you are pressed for time, you can expedite the process by using a hairdryer to blow dry your hair.

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