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.

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