Build a Book

Making Paper From Paper Bags

Hello and welcome to another post about how to make paper! I am still on the search for a paper making method that is simple, takes up little space, and has a short dry time (see previous post about my tiny apartment and inquisitive cat). And my gosh, I think I might have found my answer. Paper bags are thicker and more durable than the printer paper used in the last paper making method, and in theory should be easier to work with. This guide truly is a simple, 3-step process.

  1. Cut paper bags
  2. Wet paper bags
  3. Dry paper bags

Scroll to the bottom for supplies links and implementation suggestions!

Supplies used:

  • Glass baking pan (any pan that holds water will do)
  • Paper bags
  • Water

Once you have gathered your supplies, the process really is simple and fast!

Step One


Now that you’ve cut your bag you will end up with the flap of the bottom of the bag left. I chose to throw mine out because they were overlapped and covered in glue, but for larger (Shaw’s type) paper bags,  you may be able to save the bottoms for a smaller book making project!

Now, I ordered paper bags because 1) I’m a college student addicted to my Prime membership, 2) I live in a small town where paper bags seemed hard to come by, and 3) I didn’t have time to run to the out-of-town store. You can follow suit and order bags online (here ) or you can have members of your library team (boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/kids/parents) ask for paper bags when they do their weekly grocery shopping trip.

Step Two

Once your bags are cut fill your container with water and lay the paper bag on top. You can use your hand to press the bag into the water as shown above, or you can slide the bag over the water, flip, and repeat. Both seemed to have similar results so I went with the sliding method for time.

***Extra hack: If you are making paper in your own home, or have access to a sink at your library that would function during an event, you can run the paper under a running faucet and skip the need for a tray!***

Step Three

The last step is drying, which you can do by hanging the pages up or laying flat on a towel. I was shocked that these bags took around an hour to dry! Compared to the staining method which took hours, this was refreshing!

By wetting the paper bags you create a softer material to work with when making your own book. I noticed most of the “wax” feeling on the paper bag was gone, which should help with writing on the pages later. You also have the option of ironing the pages to make them smoother if that’s more your style, however I liked the rustic/old look of the wrinkles.

Implementing as an activity in your library:

There are a few ways to help implement this in a library throughout the blog, however I’m going to double reference them here because this truly would make an excellent addition to a library program!

  • Have library staff ask for paper bags when doing their grocery shopping trips to help build up your storage of paper bags.
  • To host this as an outdoor, summer activity, use buckets of water for children and adults to “dunk” their bags into and use string and clothespins to hang them up to dry.
  • Host a “history of book making” (bonus is if your library has special collection items you can showcase) session after the craft to allow for enough dry time that patrons can take their work home with them, or like the other post, collect the paper when dried and store in a folder labeled with the patrons name for the next event!



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