I saw the Paper Recycling Factory in a store after Christmas on sale for five dollars. I’m such a nerd I bought it for myself despite that it’s obviously made for children. I’d always wondered just how paper was recycled and for five dollars I figured why not get it and find out. Bill Nye won’t betray me with sup par quality.
The process is surprisingly simple. The kit comes with a plastic blender, a tray, a press, a mesh frame, some deckles (little stencil like molds) and some cleaning clothes. You rip up some paper and let it soak in water for at least two hours. Then you take the blender, fill it halfway with water, and add a handful of the paper that’s been soaking. Don’t be like me and ignore the instructions, only add a handful. I thought, “there’s no way a handful will fill this deckle thing” and so added a couple of handfuls and lo and behold I wasn’t able to get the blender to mix my water and paper. The blender, being plastic, doesn’t work well if there’s too much paper in it. I ended up getting my electric blender and blending it that way. When the paper and water are blended together you have pulp.
You then take the mesh frame, put it on top of the press and put the deckle of your choice on top the mesh frame. I chose the star. Pour the pulp onto the deckle, use the top of the press to push it in and then let the pulp dry in the deckle. Voila, you have a new piece of paper.
I liked this product a lot and I think children will find it enjoyable, especially if they are into science or environmental issues. The age range the Paper Recycling Factory is primarily meant for is seven through twelve year olds. Or in the case of the nerdy and young at heart, it’s good gift for a twenty-one year old. As the process is all water and paper, there’s little chance of the child being able to destroy the house with it. You can add some paint or gelatin to the mixture, for color and to seal the new paper. The instructions recommend using gelatin if you want to write on the paper later. However, I didn’t use gelatin and was able to put pen marks and paint on the piece I made just fine.
The instructions say the paper takes at least twenty-four hours to dry. It took my paper a little over two days to completely dry. It helps if you take the mesh frame with paper pulp and deckle off of the press so you can get more air in there to dry it.
I’ve seen this item sold for a full price of nearly twenty dollars. I don’t think I would have bought it for that much, especially now knowing how it works. If you don’t mind letting your kid use a real blender and have some cookie cutter shapes, you can do the exact same thing without this kit and save yourself the money. However, it’s still a fun toy and the pieces in the kit are a lot more colorful than using the house tools you already have.