W500xL600mm, China

Though paper is one of the 4 great invention of China, handmade paper is a dying art.  To earn a living from making paper is hard work; there are all together 72 steps!  This is only a rough idea what is has been done to make the paper.

First, in late spring young bamboo are collected from the forest, these 2 m long bamboo are then cut into 2 cm wide stripes.  These stripes are soaked in lime water for 2 to 3 months.  At the point, the bamboo would have turned yellowish, they are then rinsed and cleaned with water and the knots and the outer skin will be removed.  These stripes are then put in a 5 m long x 1 m wide wooden trough for stomping (just as grape stomping for wine).  Now we finally have the paste for paper making; the paste is put into a 2 m long by 1 m tall wooden trough and mixed with a glue solution.  A deckle with fine silk sieve mounted on a wooden frame is lowered into the paste and then taken out, after the water is drained away a thin layer of paste is left.  The paste sheet is flipped out on wooden board, silk sieve removed and we have a wet piece of paper.  These wet paper is piled up and water squeeze out under the wooden press.  Lastly, the paper are separated and posted on the drying room one by one.  These workshops are usually run by 10 people;  2 for the stripping of bamboo, 2 for stomping, 3 for sieving, 2 for drying and one for all the other bits and pieces.

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