The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
The cottagecore aesthetic is extremely popular amongst college students, with the movement blowing up on TikTok during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those not familiar with it, cottagecore centers around living a simple, rural-centric lifestyle, from the clothes you wear to the hobbies you enjoy. Common hobbies in the community include baking bread from scratch, practicing embroidery, and pressing flowers. However, there is one activity so underutilized that it should be considered criminal. That hobby is papermaking, and here is how and why you should try it.
cottagecore and paper
Two major tenants of the cottagecore lifestyle are sustainability and self-sufficiency. As such, many cottagecore hobbies are handmade crafts that can be done with recycled material. Papermaking is no different since the most important supply needed is scraps from old pages.
Making paper by hand is proven to have many environmental benefits. According to Blue Cat Paper, a paper producing company, the handmade paper uses 50% less energy than machine-made paper and cuts down personal air pollution rates by 70%. Alongside this, homemade paper keeps trees from being cut down and significantly reduces waste materials. This aligns directly with the cottagecore ideals of nature preservation, simpler living, and the management of a DIY mindset.
College students, as you most likely already know too well, get loads of worksheets that end up tossed at the end of the semester. Rather than throwing those worksheets away, why not repurpose them into new pages? Luckily, papermaking is extremely affordable; I was able to buy my first kit for under $20.
Making paper: a brief guide
In order to make paper, you’ll first need to make pulp. This is done by soaking shredded paper in a tub of water for a few hours. The soggy paper is then mashed into fine bits, which becomes what is known as pulp. Many papermakers use a blender to achieve this, but you can use anything that you have on hand. I’ve heard of people using whisks or potato mashers in lieu of a blender; I use my hands.
For the next step, you will need another tub and tools known as a mould and a deckle. Mould and deckle are a set of two frames connected by a hinge. One of the frames is bound by mesh in order to collect the pulp. You can purchase these tools for under $10 on Amazon, purchase a papermaking kit that comes with a mould and deckle, or make one yourself.
Once you’ve gathered everything you need, fill a second tub of water. Mix a handful of pulp into the water, making sure that there are no large clumps. If you’ve done it right, everything should be of a watery quality.
Next, draw your mould and deckle into the water at a 45-degree angle. When you pull it back up, it should be full of pulp. Shake the mould gently from side to side to even everything out. Wait a few moments, then place the mould down onto an absorbent surface, like a towel or cloth. This should be done in a single swift movement; if you go too slow, the pulp will fall everywhere.
Once you’ve placed the pulp down, sponge out the excess water and remove the mould. Leave the paper to dry and, in one to three days, your paper will be dry enough for use!
What’s worth noting is that this craft is extremely messy. No matter how proactive you are, things are going to get wet and caked in tiny pieces of hardened pulp. While you can make paper in a dorm, I highly advise doing it outside. Besides, making handcrafts out in the sun adds to the aesthetic.
If you’re looking for a new hobby to pick up this spring, why not try making your own paper? It’s cheap, sustainable, and an untapped market on Etsy. Homemade paper also makes for great gifts, cards, and canvases. Try making paper today; your friends, family, and the environment will thank you for it.