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The paper making process One ton of traditional Indian handmade paper, produced from cotton rag waste, saves an estimated 277 Eucalyptus or 462 bamboo trees that would be required to make the same quantity of conventional mill made paper. Surprising, but it is true.

The basic steps of recycled handmade paper making are described below.

 

SORTING & DUSTING
Both the raw material, waste cotton rags, and any added materials, such as flower petals or other natural fibers, must be sorted by hand to remove foreign materials like plastics, dust, stalks and leaves etc. that would contaminate the pulp, and cause imperfections in the paper.
 

RAG CHOPPING
The sorted cotton rags are put through a mechanized rag chopper that cuts the rags into small uniform sized pieces.

In the past this process was done manually using a curved knife mounted on a wooden board.

 

BEATING
Beating is the most important step in the handmade paper making process. The chopped rags are converted into a fine pulp in a ` Hollander Beater' and mixed with water. Inert chemicals, like rosin soap and alum are added to give the paper the desired consistency and blot free characteristic. When making colored and or textured papers, the color dyes and or textured materials like straw, hemp, grass, silk and jute fibers etc., are added during this process. The resulting pulp is ready for sheet formation.

 

SHEET FORMATION
Dipping is the traditional method. In this method the pulp is transferred from the beater into a masonry trough or vat. Depending on the thickness of the paper required, the pulp is diluted by mixing it with water. The mould, made of a wooden frame with a wire mesh or a bamboo stick mat, is dipped by hand into the pulp. The frame is then shaken side to side horizontally (this gives the fiber a cross linking pattern and strength - a unique characteristic of handmade paper) and lifted out of the vat. A sheet of pulp is formed

over the mould. This method requires a skilled operator and is physically demanding.

 
 

 

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