Get inspired by the professionals while making paper in Taiwan. // © 2014 roundTAIWANround
When I heard that I was going to Puli, a small Taiwanese town known for the “four Ws” (women, water, wine and weather), I wasn’t quite sure what was in store. Fortunately, what ensued was good ol’ family friendly fun — with fiber. It turns out that artisanal paper — the thick, hand-crafted kind — requires high-quality water, for which Puli, a township in Nantou County, is known. Puli is about a 30-minute drive from the major tourist destination of Sun Moon Lake and has been producing paper since the Japanese occupation of Taiwan.
Upon entrance to the Guangxing Paper Mill, we were greeted and shown examples of paper made from different fibers (including animal poop) and given some history on the process. Then we learned how to make paper — a DIY project too involved for even the savviest Pinterest user.
Our guide walked us through the process, showing us how sifted pulp can eventually turn into beautiful paper. It’s a simple process, but it took a certain finesse and the right set-up and tools. Luckily our cheery local guide was there to help us every step of the way.
Meanwhile, near where we took our paper to dry, staff from the mill elegantly produced large sheets of paper. They seemed to materialize from thin air: an illusion created by a few seconds in Puli’s water, a flick of the wrist and some light sifting.
Like the pros, we put our wet sheets on long hot plates, brushing the paper down to make it smooth and uniformly thick. As though I was making pancakes, I excitedly waited for my creation to dry, not caring too much when it didn’t resemble the perfect paper churned out by the staff. Uneven and rough around the edges, it was a true one-of-a-kind record of my visit.