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MULBERRY PAPER (Saa)

  Mulberry paper, known in Thai as “Saa” paper, is Thailand’s traditional way of making decorative paper from the bark of the mulberry tree. It is commonly used in paper craft such as handmade gift boxes, decoration, and traditional paper art.

paper material
Mulberry Tree

What is mulberry paper?

  Common across Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, this plant (Broussonetia Papyrifera Vent) is a rapidly growing, and non-cultured flora that fills untended environments. The material of this plant is perfectly sustainable as it is essentially a weed, replacing itself faster than it can be used. Making saa paper is actually the second main use of the mulberry tree since it is used for silkworms as they can only produce quality silk while keeping to a diet of mulberry leaves. As the bushes mature, the leaves are no longer appetizing to the silkworm. At that point the bark and leaves are stripped (and ultimately grow back) for use in making decorative paper.

mulberry tree bark
Natural Paper Material

How mulberry paper is made

  The mulberry bark is soaked in clean water for about a day until it is softer and more pliable. It is then boiled in a salt water solution for a couple of hours to break down the internal strength of the plant cellulose. After boiling, the salt solution is rinsed away from the fiber, resulting in the basic raw fiber which makes up the essence of this natural paper.

traditional paper process
Soaking Mulberry Bark

Mulberry strips are whitened for uniform color

  Handmade paper has to be a uniform color in order to consistently hold any dye added further in the traditional process of handmade mulberry paper. Salt treated in a chlorine solution is used to remove the color inconsistencies in the raw material. The whitening agent is then thoroughly rinsed away to prevent it from interfering in additional coloration.

paper craft
Mulberry Strips

Raw paper material is sorted for quality

  After the raw bark is soaked, cleaned, and treated for uniform color there still remain natural variations. The low-impact, handmade processing means that even after a few days of handling, the paper material can still be grouped by hue and roughness. The most delicate and regular-hued segments are chosen for paper, while rougher and darker segments are destined for rope or thicker boards

paper craft
Paper material is grouped

Handmade paper pulp

  Saa paper now begins its real transformation. The raw paper material has been groomed and selected for consistent texture and color. This step is crucial in the final texture and feel of the paper. In preparation for its coloring, the paper is now immersed in cold water and agitated repeatedly through a blunt thresher to create a granular pulp

handmade paper pulp
Paper Pulp

Handmade paper coloring

  As the fibers are being crushed and separated, traditional dyes are added into the cold water solution. The color is therefore dyeing the pulp as it is ground into a mash of cellulose so fine that the rich colors come through as close to true and with minimal dilution and variation in the final paper

traditional paper dye
Traditional Paper Dye

Paper making revealed

  The Saa paper pulp is then allowed to sit for a few minutes after the agitator is removed from the pulping bin. The ground, dyed fibers then rise to the top and are collected on a light screen that draws out even layers of pulp for the final drying process.

making paper
Making Decorative Paper

The sun finishes the work

  The smooth and evenly-layered pulp is now essentially dissolved cellulose amalgam. The sun, while drying the pulp, evaporates the water in the solution as the trays are exposed on alternating sides, fixing the pulp together into sheets with the natural adhesive that was formed in the pulping process.

mulberry paper sheets
Handmade Mulberry Paper

Dried screens are collected

  Saa paper sheets have now formed in the screen trays and are collected from the drying yard. The paper is now carefully separated from the reusable mesh screens. The finished handmade paper is limited to only a couple of standard sizes - set by optimizing size, screen handling, and safe paper separation.

natural paper
Collecting Natural Paper

Handmade gift boxes

  The natural paper is often used to make gift boxes soon after drying. Each box is touched by a human, generally working at the family home. The irregular handmade paper can't be handled easily by machines so this paper and the products made with it are among the least industrial products in the market.

handmade gift box
Making Gift Boxes

Eastern Serenity packaging

  Eastern Serenity pre-packages most items (indicated by Gift boxes ) in gift boxes made from this extraordinary paper. The packaging is re-usable for a surprisingly long time and will surely have a life of its own. Our indicia stickers on the boxes can be easily removed for alternate uses

mulberry gift box
Mulberry Paper Gift Boxes


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