Share your love this Valentine’s Day by gifting tiny plantable paper hearts made with recycled materials! Come springtime, the paper can be planted indoors or in a garden, and the embedded seeds will sprout up. Read on for instructions on how to create this simple eco-friendly craft.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
- Recycled paper (any plain white paper, magazine inserts, junk mail, or used copy paper is fine, but do not use glossy coated or magazine paper. Use a sheet of colored paper or scraps of similar hues to add pigment to your valentines.)
- Window screen
- Blender or food processor
- Heart shaped cookie cutter
- Seeds (wildflowers or veggies)
- Rags or old towels
- Cards, glue, paper, markers, scissors, and string
Step Two: Prepare Recycled Paper
Shred your pile of recycled paper into a bowl. Cover with boiled water—use enough to just cover the paper scraps. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes, and give it a stir to make sure all the paper gets soaked. We used a few pieces of green and blue scrap paper to tint our batch of recycled paper. If you don’t have any colored paper scraps, you can add a few drops of food coloring.
Step Three: Blend Paper
Pour the mixture into a food processor or blender and give it a whirl. Stir in any un-blended chunks of paper and blend until fairly smooth. You do want some flecks of texture so don’t over-blend. Pour off any excess water from the top of the blender.
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Step Four: Add Seeds
Transfer the paper pulp into a bowl, and stir in a few tablespoons of your preferred seeds. We used radish seeds for a tasty, edible spring treat (the sprouts are edible too!). Other great options include wildflowers, daisies, carrots, dill, or other seeds that are quite small.
Step Five: Mold Hearts
Place an old towel or rag underneath the screen to catch excess water (make sure its old since it might get dye on it—if you used colored paper or food coloring it will bleed.) Place a heart shaped cookie cutter on the screen, then fill it with a tablespoon full of paper pulp. Using your fingers, press the pulp into all the corners of the cookie cutter.
Then, use a towel wrapped around your finger to gently dab and press the top of the pulp inside the cookie cutter, which will press excess water out the bottom of the screen and into the towel you’re holding. Gently remove the cookie cutter, using one or two fingers to push the paper shape out and onto the screen.
Step Six: Dry Paper
If you have any excess paper pulp and don’t want to mold it all into heart shapes, you can spread it out and flatten it onto the screen to create a sheet of paper, which you can later cut into the shape you want.
When you’re finished shaping the paper pulp and pressing out excess water, lay the screens out to dry in a well-ventilated area. You can lay them on a clothing drying rack, or near a heat source (prop the screen up on all four corners if you don’t put it on a rack so that air can circulate underneath).
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Step Seven: Create Valentines
Create valentines by gluing the plantable paper hearts to a card, or using a needle and thread to create a loop of string to hang them by.
Don’t forget to include instructions on what type of seeds you included and how to plant them! Here’s how: To grow a plantable valentine, rip it into several pieces and plant under about an inch of soil—either in a plant pot, or outdoors. Keep it well watered until sprouts appear!
All photos by the author