All About Handmade Paper

Why Use Handmade Paper?

In today’s world of email, voice mail and cell phones, people everywhere are placing great importance on paper that stands out from the crowd. If you’re going to take the time to mail a letter or an invitation, it should be special. Handmade plantable paper, with its distinctive, tactile surface, is very special – after all, each sheet of plantable paper was made by hand.

Handmade paper turns waste scraps of cotton fabric, blue jeans and office paper and adds wildflower seeds to turn it into exquisite sheets of paper.

Handmade plantable paper has a unique look and texture that sets it apart from machine-made paper. The beauty of handmade seed embedded paper is that no two sheets are alike. Unlike the cut edges of machine-made paper, each piece of handmade paper is made-to-size and thus has a feathery “deckle edge” on all four sides. Handmade paper also has a rich texture, making it perfect for drawing, writing, binding into books, rubber stamping and more.

The Deckled Edge of Handmade Paper

The term Deckle Edge refers to the distinctive, feathery edge of handmade paper. It occurs when the handmade paper is made and enhances the overall look of handmade paper. Other paper manufacturers make their handmade paper in large sheets, and then cut them down to card and invitation size. They try to achieve a similar effect by tearing or cutting the paper; but a true deckle edge can only be achieved when the handmade paper is made to the specific card size as is done at Botanical PaperWorks, and not cut down from a larger piece of handmade paper.

The Process of Making Handmade Paper

Preparing to make handmade paper starts first with a base pulp, often 100% post-consumer waste, cotton fiber or abaca fiber for beautiful, acid-free sheets of handmade paper. To the pulp, pigments and inclusions are added such as seeds and petals. The uniqueness of the handmade paper is determined by the materials added to the base pulp.

The pulp for making handmade paper is then added to a papermaking vat. The papermaker stands in front of the vat and using a mould and deckle designed specifically for making handmade paper, the papermaker pulls the set through the pulp. After draining the sheet, the handmade paper is “couched” onto a pad of felts, layered with additional layers of handmade papers and felts, and then pressed in a hand papermaking press.

Finally, the handmade paper is removed from the press and either air-dried or dried in a special dryer system designed exclusively for handmade paper.

Unique Properties of Handmade Paper

Handmade paper has several unique properties:

  • Handmade paper is often made from tree-free fibers such as cotton, abaca or hemp. Handmade paper is also made from recycled fibers found in office paper and newspaper.
  • The quality of handmade paper is determined by the base pulp, so if the handmade paper is made using low-quality newsprint, the resulting quality of handmade paper will be poor. Alternatively, fresh cotton, abaca or hemp pulp produces an artist-quality handmade paper.
  • Many handmade papers are acid-free and pH neutral, depending on the raw materials used in a given handmade paper. Check with the specific producer of the handmade paper.

If you need further information on handmade paper, please contact us at Botanical PaperWorks. We’re happy to assist in any way.


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