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How to make your own papyrus

You will need:

• A large bowl or deep tray (a cat litter tray is just right!) big enough for the papyrus strips to lie flat out.
• A piece of smooth absorbent fabric big enough to cover both sides of an A4 piece of paper (an old tea towel or pillow slip works well).
• Two pieces of flat cardboard a bit bigger than an A4 piece of paper (you can maybe use some from an old cereal packet).
• A couple of old newspapers.
• Either two solid pieces of wood or a flower press if you have one, and some clamps or heavy weights.

Instructions:

1. Soak the papyrus strips in water for at least 3 days.  Some people add a couple of spoonfuls of wallpaper paste at this stage to help the natural glues along.
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2. Take the strips out and roll them hard with a rolling pin on a chopping board.

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3. Put one side of your fabric on top of your cardboard to make a nice flat smooth surface.  Lay the long papyrus strips in one direction, overlapping them by almost half.  The strips will shrink a bit as they dry, so if you do not overlap, you will end up with a holey sheet of papyrus!  Lay the shorter strips across the top, overlapping again, in the opposite direction.  Give it a good roll with your rolling pin to squeeze out any excess moisture, and dab it dry with some kitchen towel.

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This is what happens when you dont overlap properly!

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4. Cover with the other layer of cotton, and card to make a papyrus sandwich. Then put sheets of newspaper on both sides to soak up the moisture as it dries out and put it all between your pieces of wood with clamps on the sides (you might need someone to help), or weights on top, or tightly in your flower press.

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5. Now you need to be patient and leave it to dry for about a week.  You can change the newspaper after the first day for some new dry paper and have a sneaky peak to see how it is getting on, but you will need to leave it until it is completely dry.

6. Peel the fabric layers off carefully.  You may want to trim any ragged ends from your sheet to make it nice and tidy.  You can smooth the sheet of papyrus with a smooth stone if you wish – only rub gently in the same direction as the strips, or it will make it rougher.

You can now write or draw on your papyrus.  Black paint is good, or felt tips.  Or you can try making your own ink.