Mulberry Bark Paper in China

Mulberry Bark Paper in China

Pictured is a small mountain village in China. I visited the village to see how paper from mulberry bark was made. Four generations of the family have been producing mulberry paper. As I walked down the narrow lane, I saw an old man squatted on the ground with a pile of pale bark strips in front of him. He was picking up the narrow soft strips and removing the brown portions. I learned that the bark is taken from the trees in the mountains. They use the inner bark of the limbs, not damaging the tree. The bark is softened in a lime mixture and shredded and soaked in stages until it is dissolved in a lime based solution. A screen is dipped into the solution until a film is set. The lady only took minutes to demonstrate creating a sheet of the paper. The film is the paper. The screen with the film is set in a rack and the 3 X 3 foot wet sheets are then plastered on a metal wall to dry. Inside the metal wall is a warm charcoal fire. The process was amazingly simple but delicate. The family currently has a contract with the government to produce the paper for restoration projects. Notebooks, wall hangings, lanterns and note pads were for sale. I purchased a lantern. It hangs in the guest lodge at the ranch.