papermaking closeup with wet paper pulp on a mold and deckle

Papermaking & The Journey That Led To Botanical PaperWorks Seed Paper

Ever wondered where the idea for papermaking started? What materials papermakers used? How seed paper came about?

Botanical PaperWorks CEO and Co-Founder, Heidi Reimer Epp, and her mother Mary Reimer started Botanical PaperWorks over 20 years ago. Before that happened, the duo learned a lot about paper making, which led to where we are now.

Here’s a look at paper’s development, from invention to our seed paper today!

How Papermaking Started

One of the first writing surfaces was ancient Egyptian papyrus, made by layering marsh grass stems. Then in medieval times, paper makers harvested animal skin, removing the fur, turning it into vellum and parchment to write on. Those were the early beginnings, but paper wasn’t made yet. Historians credit the invention of paper, as we know it today, to T’sai Lun from China. He experimented with old bark, hemp, rags and other material to make paper. This idea traveled throughout Asia, eventually making its way to Europe.

Still, papermaking was time-consuming and expensive. On the search for an easier way to make paper, René de Reaumur made a nature-inspired discovery. He noticed that wasps formed their nests by chewing down wood fibers and gluing the pieces together with a sticky substance wasps make naturally. Voila! The idea for papermaking from refined wood pulp formed.

Fast forward to the modern-day, and wood fibers are standard in papermaking. Just break down the fibers, then mix in water. Lift the wet mix into frames and screens. Then press and dry those into sheets.

papermaking closeup of a mold and deckle with wet paper pulp

The Early Years of Papermaking at Botanical PaperWorks

In the mid-90s, Botanical PaperWorks co-founder Mary Reimer was a school teacher and saw a lot of unnecessary paper waste in the classroom. She decided to look for ways to reuse it and figured out that she could use the waste to make new handmade paper.

Mary’s daughter Heidi, co-founder and present CEO of Botanical PaperWorks worked in marketing and business development, so the two partnered up to start a handmade paper business.

With the new venture came a lot of experimentation, since there are many ways to customize paper, including embossing, dying, and embedding. Pulp materials vary from hemp, to abaca, flax, and other tree fibers. The duo tried them all!

Here’s a look at some of the paper they made:

1. Herb-Embedded Paper

sheets of parseley-embedded paper

This parsley and abaca pulp blend uses the leaves whole and dried. Other herbs worked as well, including dill and oregano.

2. Fabric Embossing

sheets of fabric-embossed paper with bubble wrap, clothing, and doily impressions.

Using old clothing, fabrics, rags, and assorted fabrics with raised patterns gave the paper totally unique appearances. Here is a raised-star fabric example. To the left is a green bubble wrap-embossed sheet. To the right, a blue doily-embossed sheet.

3. Thread and String Accents

paper made with multicolored embroidery

A papermaking experiment with varied textured appearances. The multicolored embroidery thread pops in and out of the paper. The result is a interesting weave of accenting color.

4. Lavender and Moss

paper made with embedded lavender and moss

An earthy blend, this paper included bits of cut fresh moss and assorted petals. The result was an organic look with lots of raised impressions.

How Botanical PaperWorks decided on seed paper 

Heidi and Mary tried many handmade paper options. Eventually, a publishing company approached them to write a book about it. This lead to even more experiments. They were working with different botanicals in the paper, and seeds were a natural next step. The experiment was a success and quickly became the focus of their handmade paper business because people loved the idea and couldn’t get enough. The company then rebranded as a seed paper company.

Over twenty years later, the company has grown, reaching markets in 34 countries. With a team of over 30 people, the business now manufacturers many kinds of seed paper products including wedding invitations, wedding favors, event stationery, memorial pieces, corporate promotional products and sustainable packaging. The company has several awards for innovations in printing and the promotional product industry and has 4.9 stars on Google Reviews.

Read the full Botanical PaperWorks Adventures in Seed Papermaking story here

Find More Papermaking Recipe Ideas

If you want to learn more history of papermaking, read Heidi and Mary’s books: 300 Papermaking Recipes, Beginner’s Guide to Papermaking, and Encyclopedia of Papermaking and Bookbinding.

Learn more about this special paper made by Botanical PaperWorks that uses post-consumer materials and is embedded with seeds so that it will grow when planted!

You can buy seed paper sheets for eco-friendly papercraft projects from Botanical PaperWorks. We have a variety of seed options, including wildflower, herb and veggie, and over 25 seed paper colors. Join our mailing list to receive emails with freebies, projects, coupons, green living tips, and decor ideas and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest


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