Monday, May 17, 2010

Handmade paper from Macedonia

I was recently on a long weekend trip to Lake Ohrid in Macedonia. The town of Ohrid on the lake shores is an absolute delight to visit and well worth adding to your travel itenerary if you are ever bumbling around in the Balkans. Its actually a Unesco world heritage site I will have you know.

A hop skip and a jump from our little hotel room was in fact the National Workshop for Handmade Paper. Its just two small rooms that are open everyday to the public where they display and demonstrate their paper making techniques and sell their products of prints, cards, boxes, bags and notebooks etc.

The basic process is soaking of the wood pulp in water for about 30 days (in the tub on the far right). Then the pulp is scooped into a form that looks a bit like a screen printing frame (resting on tub in photo). This allows the water to drain through, leaving the wood fibres behind. To draw out the extra water they press it between two wooden plates for about half an hour (I think this is the apparatus in the middle of the photo). Then the paper is dried in the air for about two days and then because it gets wrinkly with the drying out it is then pressed flat for about twelve hours in the press on the left in the picture. Then its ready for use.

Colour is added to the paper by using extracts from flowers and leaves in the soaking process. They also add gorgeous pressed flowers to some of the finished products.

There you go - no glue, no harsh chemicals, bleaches or harmful waste products. Just lovely thick, soft and creamy paper using a centuries old simple technique.
Photos courtesy of the workshop website.

1 comment:

kellenart said...

I am starting a paper-making project with disabled adults in Gevgelija.
Do you have any of your equipment for sale and where did you buy the
pulp. We will not be able to get a pulp beater and will try to do it like you have.

Kathy Gavitt, Peace Corps Volunteer-Macedonia


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