Here's what you'll need:
Newspaper - sheets and shredded
Mesh-like material - I used a piece of screen from an old door but cheesecloth should work to
Paint and brush
Embroidery floss and sew needle (optional)
And, of course, your favorite sweet treat.
I used a pretty readily available paper-making recipe that I found online as my base. Mix 2 cups of torn newspaper with 4 cups of hot water in a blender to make your base. Then dump it into your mixing bowl with about 1/2 Cup of Mod Podge:
This is the fun part - take both hands and submerge them in the slurry mixing it until the Mod Podge is fully incorporated....okay you could actually use a spoon to mix it, but where's the fun in that? If you are making a lot of valentines you can add as many batches to the bowl as you need just remember to increase the amount of Mod Podge too.
Now scoop a bunch of pulp in your hands and gently squeeze some of the water over the bowl but don't remove all the water as you'll need to keep some to help the binding process once you shape your paper. Place your partially squeezed pulp onto your screen (which should be lined on the underside with several layers of newspaper.
You can shape the mound however you'd like, in one large sheet that you can cut up later or in individual sheets that won't need any further reshaping. Now take several more sheets of newspaper and lay it on top of the pulp and apply some pressure. You can use a rolling pin or put a block of wood on top and let the kids stand on it (BUT NOT ON YOUR CARPET), the more pressure you apply the thinner your paper will be. As you push on the pulp, water will gush out of the edges and the pulp will begin to bind and form your paper.
You can leave the sheets of paper to dry for 24 hours as is or you can cut shapes from your pulp.
If you choose to cut shapes, you can use a cookie cutter to outline your shapes but the fibers are too densely packed at this stage for it to cut all the way through. You'll need to use an exacto or other sharp knife. OR if you're paper is thin enough you can wait until the paper has dried and simply use a pair of scissors. I chose to keep my valentine's pretty thick and I really like the organic looking edges.
Now just let them dry for at least 24 hours (longer if they are thick) and then paint and decorate as you desire. You can see on this one that I cross-stitched and xo with some embroidery floss. (Not recommended for small children - and the thicker paper takes some work to get the needle through).
The chocolate kiss is attached with a simple glue dot. Of course you can snazz that up by threading a piece of floss through the paper and tying a piece of candy in place but I still recommend a glue dot if the kids are taking these to school to avoid losing the candies.
Happy Hearts Day!