How is Paper Made?

how is paper made

 We carry many different kinds of paper at Paper Papier such as Rhodia, G Lalo Verge de France, and Florentia Stationery, to highlight a few. Before we explain why we carry particular kinds of paper, we will share a brief overview of how paper is made and touch a little on the history of papermaking.

How is Paper Made?

Paper Pulp

Here is a simplified version of how paper is made, according to the website Explain That Stuff, A mat of plant fibres called the pulp is the base of the paper-making process. Today, half of the fibre used to make paper pulp comes from trees that have been purposefully harvested. The most commonly used trees are fast-growing, evergreen conifers such as pine, spruce, fir, larch, and hemlocks. These trees are chosen due to the cellulose fibres in the wood being longer which creates stronger paper. However, with the greater sophistication of the manufacturing process, almost any species of tree can be harvested for paper.

Other Materials

Plants, other than trees can be suitable for making paper. Some examples are bamboo, recycled newspaper, straw, sugar cane, cotton and rags (left-overs and waste from textile mills). 

In addition to the trees and plants used in creating the pulp, other materials used in paper manufacturing are dyes, bleaches, fillers such as chalk, clay or titanium oxide. These materials are added depending upon the desired finish of the paper. For example, clay produces a smoother quality paper ideal for magazines as it helps create a glossy finish.

If you would like to learn more details about the manufacturing of paper, Made How has a more detailed article on the process. 

The Process

how is paper made

The plant material (tree, bamboo etc.) is crushed and mashed up in order to release the fibres. It’s then mixed with water which creates a “soggy” mix called the pulp. The pulp is spread into a mat on wire mesh in order to allow the fibres to bond together. The water is squeezed out, the pulp is dried and what remains is the paper.

This process is quite simple and while large paper manufacturers use modern and sophisticated machinery, hand-made paper is still created today and some people even make paper as a hobby.

Here is a video from the Colorado University Boulder Libraries. You can see paper being made while hearing a discussion of the history of paper.

A Brief History Of Paper

The actual recorded process of making paper dates back to China during the 8th century. From there it spread to the Islamic world where pulp and paper mills were used to make money in addition to paper. Papermaking was brought to Europe during the 11th century and by the 13th century, the process was refined with the use of waterwheels. 

The introduction of wood-based paper pulp came about in the 19th century.

What about Papyrus?

how is paper made papyrus

Despite what we are all taught in school, Egyptian papyrus, known as the first paper, isn’t a true paper even though the word paper does derive from papyrus. This is due to the method by which is made: thin, ribbon-like strips of the interior of the cyperus papyrus plant are laid out side-by-side forming a sheet. A second layer is then placed on top with the strips running at a right angle. These two layers are pounded together into a sheet which is very long and uneven. Eventually, if used in scrolls the layers do come apart unlike a true paper.

Parchment, a heavily prepared animal skin that predates paper and possibly papyrus, used principally for writing isn’t considered a real paper either. Like papyrus, it pre-date true paper and perhaps predates papyrus.

Which Type of Paper Do I Need?

 what kind of paper do i need

 As paper varies greatly, this is an important question. Such differences include grade, weight, texture, and finish. The best way to answer this question is it depends upon your medium. Are you going to be using paper with a fountain pen? Perhaps you’re using a rollerball or ballpoint? 

Typically ink provides great detail on smooth paper types, however, if the surface is too soft and smooth a pen will easily gouge the surface.


how is paper made rhodia
If you look back at our blog “What’s so Special About Fountain Pen Paper?”, we discuss why we love Rhodia paper for fountain pens. Made in France, Rhodia is one of the smoothest papers we carry at Paper Papier. In fact, it’s so smooth, we call it buttery. Fountain pen ink dries on it in a reasonable amount of time and there are no issues with bleed through or feathering. 

G Lalo Verge

 how is paper made

However, it’s such a personal choice and you may also very much enjoy using G Lalo Verge paper and envelopes. Originating in Paris in 1919, it quickly became the social stationery to use in Paris and royal courts across Europe. The elegance and quality of G. Lalo stationery have made it the first choice when the best is sought for correspondence, invitations or simply a letter. It is really, the ultimate fountain pen paper due to its distinctive linen finish which handles fountain pen ink so beautifully. 

Whatever your need is when it comes to paper, we have something for you online or in the store