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A Beautiful Pack of Bhutanese Paper

    Such Beautiful Paper

    A beautiful pack of Bhutanese Paper arrived at my studio today.

    This paper is artist’s handmade paper from Jungshi, Bhutan – location here.

    It is made from 100% pure high grown denak fibre, and is acid free and vegan.

    I’m looking forward to using it for some ink drawings, although this paper is so beautiful it almost seems obscene to mark it in any way.

    Two Types of Bhutanese Paper

    • Deh-sho: This paper, crafted from the inner bark of the Mitsumata plant, is known for its smooth texture, delicate sheen, and warm ivory hue. Its strength and durability make it ideal for writing, painting, and printing.
    • Resho: Derived from the Daphne paper plant, Resho paper has a coarser texture and a darker, reddish-brown colour. Its sturdiness makes it perfect for heavier applications like bookbinding and creating ceremonial masks.

    Sustainability

    Unlike many paper production methods, Bhutanese paper-making embraces eco-friendly practices. The raw materials, Mitsumata and Daphne plants, are cultivated sustainably, ensuring a continuous and renewable source. Additionally, the entire process relies on manual labour and traditional techniques, minimising environmental impact.

    From Bark to Beauty

    The creation of Bhutanese paper is an intricate, multi-step process:

    1. Gathering: The plant bark is harvested at specific times of the year to ensure optimal quality.
    2. Soaking and Stripping: The bark is soaked in water to loosen the inner fibres, which are meticulously stripped away.
    3. Beating and Refining: The stripped fibres are repeatedly beaten with wooden mallets, transforming them into a smooth pulp.
    4. Sheet Formation: The pulp is spread onto traditional bamboo frames, allowing the water to drain and the sheet to take shape.
    5. Sun-Drying: The formed sheets are carefully laid out in the warm Himalayan sun for drying, acquiring their signature texture and colour.

    Looking Forward

    Bhutanese paper-making faces contemporary challenges such as globalisation and competition from mass-produced paper. However, dedicated efforts are underway to preserve this heritage craft. Initiatives like educational programs and international collaborations aim to ensure the continued production and appreciation of this unique art form.

    In conclusion, Bhutanese paper is more than just a sheet of paper. It’s a testament to local ingenuity, a link to a rich cultural heritage, and a symbol of sustainable practices.

    As we hold a piece of this paper, we hold a piece of the Himalayas themselves, a reminder of the beauty and tradition that thrive in this remarkable corner of the world.