How to Make Ancient Chinese Paper


Before humans had paper, we had cave walls and colorful markings. After cave drawings, we had clay tablets, thanks to the Sumerians. That was followed by papyrus, which was developed by the Egyptians. China is credited with creating paper in 105 A.D. Using rags and vegetable fibers, the Chinese made fans, hats and other objects, including writing surfaces, from paper. Over time and other continents, paper production switched to a wood or cellulose fiber base. Paper is still mass-produced today out of the same basic elements the Chinese introduced. You can recreate their ancient art of making paper at home.

Things You'll Need

  • 8-1/2-inch-by-11-inch wooden frame
  • 2 pieces of 1-inch-by-8-inch wood
  • 2 pieces of 1-inch-by-11-inch wood
  • 8-inch-by-10-inch mesh screen with 1mm holes
  • Laminated plastic sheets
  • Large plastic container, least 9 inches by 12 inches
  • Mortar
  • Pestle
  • Plastic jug
  • Hairdryer
  • Newspaper
  • Flat sponge
  • Water
  • Hammer
  • Small nails
  • Lay your wooden frame on a flat surface. Lay a mesh screen slightly smaller in size than your frame on top of the frame and attach it with four small nails, one at each corner of the mesh screen. Lay the four pieces of wood on top of the mesh, mirroring the outline of the frame. Hammer these pieces into the mesh and base frame. Flip the frame over so the mesh is laying closest to your flat surface.

  • Soak a few pieces of newspaper in water for two days. Squeeze excess water from wet newspaper and place it into the mortar. Crush the newspaper with a pestle until it becomes a paste.

  • Fill a large bowl with water. Mix the paste into it. Immerse your frame into the bowl and slowly lift it up and out.

  • Place a piece of laminated plastic, smooth side down, on top of the mesh inside of the frame. Use a sponge to collect water dripping from the frame and gently wipe the mesh screen about six times or until it is no longer dripping. Carefully remove the laminated plastic-covered sheet from the frame.

  • Allow the laminated plastic to dry completely or, if desired, hold a hairdryer a few inches from the surface and blow hot air on the plastic until it is dry to the touch. Write on your paper with a ballpoint pen.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make your paper more interesting by adding dried flowers and dried grass clippings to your newspaper when grinding it in the mortar and pestle.

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  • Photo Credit grunge paper pale paper image by Andrew Brown from
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