How to make craft paper

how is the craft paper made

Let's explain how to make craft paper with the indications of Jan Barbé who manufactures craft paper in a professional way. You can make it at home if you want and call it homemade paper but. The truth is that it is a real wonder how it explains the whole process, the hows and the whys.

I take the main ideas from the video and add annotations of my own. above all comparing this process with that of the creation of Washi.

I hope the video is online for a long time, but if it is lost at least the indications will remain.

After this, we only have to start making our own paper for different DIY activities and various gadgets.

It will like you, Washi, the Japanese craft paper and our articles on How to recycle paper

Step by step

quality craft paper

You have to remove the lignin from the plants, which is like a natural cement that gives the plant rigidity. holds the fibers together. So you have to eliminate it previously. In the example of the video, esparto is used, whose paper is also called chrome paper. It has a lot of dimensional stability. Ideal for lithographs.

Lignin is thermoplastic and dissolves with heat and in an acid or alkaline medium.

That is why the plant is cut so that it has the largest possible contact surface and is cooked in water with 20% caustic soda, which you can find in any supermarket, it is also used to make homemade soaps and in its day it was very common for unclog pipes. This is a remarkable difference with the creation of washi, the Japanese paper. They don't use soda, but I don't know if it's because the kozo and the plants that use it don't need it or because they are cooking for a longer time to remove the lignin well.

The cut esparto is taken to the casserole. The approximate calculations are for each kilogram of dry matter add 15 liters of water and 18 or 20% of soda, recommended as a standard measure of soda 20%. Other alternatives to soda are calcium carbonate or salt, which provide the necessary alkalinity to dissolve the lignin.

Cook for about 3 hours. This time is the indicated one for esparto. Depending on the type of plant we use, it takes more or less time, from 1 hour for certain grasses to 8 hours for bamboo.

From the time of cooking, the state of the plant and the fiber begins to be checked to see if it is already well cooked. When it is crushed well and breaks easily, the lignin has already disappeared and does not continue to bind the fibers.

Once cooked, let it cool in its broth until the next day to ensure that all the harder elements have been cooked and dissolved correctly.

There is no whitening process for the fiber, so the paper will have the color given by the plant we are using.

Once cooked, it must be cleaned to remove the excess lignin and the soda that has remained in the water. For that, it is filtered with a sieve and rinsed well with clean water. We know that we have already cleaned it enough when we squeeze the fiber and the water that runs off is clean.

Then the fiber is beaten in water with a mixer to loosen the fiber well.

The esparto fiber is added to the formation tub, which is simply a large plastic bucket where we can fit the sieve or former to form the sheet. It uses a vellum former, with the square metal and stainless steel blade. Highlight the difference with the ones used to form the washi that are made of wood or bamboo,

The vat must be well soaked so that the fiber remains in suspension evenly and does not go to the bottom.

To leave the sheet, use a synthetic cloth (fiselina) on which the paper is left to be stacked and then we will press.

Separate the sheets in the pile from each other, with a synthetic mesh backing to prevent them from sticking together. It catches my attention that in the Washi they put them all together and it seems that after the press they separate easily and the different layers do not mix. Formerly felt was used between sheets. Barbé uses the supports to be able to hang them without having to put clips on the leaves and leave marks on them. In Japan we see that they did not use tweezers either, but rather supported them on panels that have the sun on the outside.

Every 2 sheets adds more material to maintain paper weight

When there are enough layers it goes to a press, in the video hydraulic or it could be manual. And he leaves it for 4 or 5 minutes of pressing.

When you take it out, it separates the leaves and puts them to dry for about 48 hours.

Paper mills

They were recyclers of materials in their time.

The esparto of the slippers.

The linen from the sheets that broke with the passage of time were used to make shirts, when the shirts were damaged they made diapers and when it was no longer suitable for diapers, the rags were used and then the rag would come and take them to the children. paper monilos for recycling, along with paper, cardboard, cotton and other materials. And from there, high quality paper was produced.

Dutch pile

It is used to shred materials such as rags.

It is a machine invented in the seventeenth century. It was a revolution for paper mills and allowed productivity to be greatly increased. They are no longer used industrially today.

It consists of a molón with adjustable blades in distance and pressure, it is really like 2 gears and the fibers are made to pass between the blades or wheels of the same, defibrating them.

Defibrating cloth with a Dutch battery can take between 2 and 5 hours. If fibers remain too long, then clumps on the paper. If when you take the pulp with your hand and squeeze it escapes between your fingers, it is because it is very refined, otherwise it will stay all in your hand.

Very refined and short fibers are needed for translucent and fine papers. For intaglio engravings where it is required that the paper does not move much and has good dimensional stability, fibers as long as possible will be used.

Importance of rag paper

He speaks of the rag as the first material used to make paper, the technique introduced by the Arabs and which spread throughout Europe.

Rag paper is a very high quality paper that allows the duration of the sheets for 1000 or 2000 years, something unthinkable for today's industrial paper.


  • How do you control the weight of the sheets?
  • What to do with the soda water left over from the first step?

Sources and information

  • Juan Barbé's website
  • I sign up to buy your book Plants and their role. 102 paper recipes. Although it is quite expensive I think it will be worth getting it
  • Investigating in the paper mills I discover The twenty-one books of ingenuities and machines

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