Category Archives: final project

Sixth Piece of the Puzzle


In this activity, draft a project idea/elevator pitch for your final project.

Write a very brief blog post thinking about your refined topic and detailing the focus of your work.

The origins of “true paper” which involves the breakdown and reconstitution of plant fibers is often traced back to A.D. 105 and associated with Cai Lun (sometimes spelled Ts’ai Lun), a court official and eunuch in the court of Emperor Han Ho Ti of China. Prior to the invention of paper, Chinese scribes wrote with a pointed stylus on wood or bamboo. Both were difficult to write on and difficult to store. Papermaking was limited to the East (making its way to Japan) until 751 when some historians argue that Muslim invaders of Central Asia brought papermaking techniques to Samarkind, an important point on the Silk Routes. From here, it traveled to Europe. For example, the Italian town of Fabriano is known for producing high-quality handmade paper and its paper industry dates back to the 13th century.

Papermaking is one of the most enduring technologies we have today. However, there have been significant changes to the process of making paper from individual handmade sheets to industrial productions of paper. There are also significant differences between Eastern and Western style papermaking.

This website will trace this significant and enduring technology as it traveled from the East to the West. Images and videos will demonstrate the variety of papermaking techniques and materials. A map and timeline will track its development. A bibliography of articles, books and websites will provide additional background information for researching handmade paper.

Fifth Piece of the Puzzle

Select a text that you wish to use in your final project and write a very brief blog post explaining why you chose it and how you might use it.

Selected text: Levine, Mark. “Can a Papermaker Help to Save Civilization? – The New York Times.” New York Times Magazine 17 Feb. 2012. Web. 29 June 2017.

Reasons: This article actually inspired my project topic. I knew that I wanted to focus on book arts, and handmade paper is often a part of this medium. I am personally interested in handmade paper as well and have taken classes on the topic. This article ties the art and craft of papermaking to our cultural history. This history (in both Eastern and Western countries) can easily incorporate teaching opportunities and help students to ask “historian’s questions.” This article serves as a jumping off point to other texts, including lesson plans and papermaking tutorials. It will be part of a larger bibliography to help both teachers and student see how handmade paper fits into history. This article also speaks to the need for authority in information sources. The subject of the interview is Timothy Barrett, a papermaker and former director of the Center for the Book at the University of Iowa. He is an established expert in the field. Although the New York Times Magazine is not a peer-reviewed journal, it is a respected publication and accessible to a wider audience. In addition to these kinds of texts, I will include several images and videos to help explain handmade paper and the process to create it.

Random Project Ideas

Understanding paper as both a craft and a commodity

Paper as part of our cultural memory

Comparing handmade paper to commercially produced paper

Repository of lesson plans

Annotated bibliography

Lesson plan aimed at primary school age children:

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will track the history of papermaking.
    1. Study early handmade examples to present day and compare them to mass-produced paper
    2. Compare and contrast Eastern and Western papermaking techniques
  2. Students be introduced to various exemplar handmade papers and learn to distinguish between them.
    1. Includes examples from art history with artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns
  3. Students will be able to define and use terminology unique to handmade paper in order to describe their work and the work of others.
    1. Examples include types of fibers, mottling, coating (e.g. marbled, silk screen printing), and moulding (e.g. wire mesh, bamboo mat)

Fourth Piece of the Puzzle

Close-up image of handmade paper
Close-up image of handmade paper

I intend to include several close-up images of handmade paper. An important distinction of handmade paper is the rougher texture. This quality can be difficult to see in photographs unless they are close-up images. Of course, being able to handle the paper creates a different experience because the uneven texture can be felt by hand. However, one way to counter this is to include close-up images of handmade paper in a variety of colors, weights, materials, and finish. An image like the one above presented by itself would be confusing and difficult for students to understand the significance. They will need to be presented with information explaining qualities like the processing of fiber, coating, and dyes. Complimenting these images with videos of making paper will also help explain these images.

Examples of paper


Mottling: Aster flowers

Fibers: Cotton rag

Mottling: Feathers

Fibers: Kozo

Images of the Process (and videos)

The traditional handicrafts of making Xuan paper  UNESCO  UNESCO