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Korean style paper

Cleveland, United States

Korean style paper produced at the Morgan Conservatory's Anne F. Eiben Hanji Studio, the only one of its kind in North America.

  • I

    Paper mulberry trees

    Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) trees are cultivated at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio, where they are harvested every November and processed by hand for papermaking.

    Paper mulberry trees, originally from East Asia, are now growing in Cleveland at the Morgan Conservatory

    Paper mulberry trees, originally from East Asia, are now growing in Cleveland at the Morgan Conservatory

    Cleveland, United States

    • Cleaned fiber, soaking in water before cooking (this is Philippine gampi fiber, also used in Asian papermaking)
    • Stripped bark needs to be scraped by hand to remove the outer layers and reveal the inner white bark
    • Steaming shoots so that the outer bark pulls away from the inner woody core
    • Year-old growth is cut down and trimmed to fit into the steaming cauldron
    • Tom Balbo harvests paper mulberry during winter rest
  • II

    Fiber processing and preparation

    This bast fiber needs further processing (cooking, rinsing, picking, beating) to prepare for the vat.

    All stripped bark, raw as well as scraped, is bundled and hung to dry and store

    All stripped bark, raw as well as scraped, is bundled and hung to dry and store

    Cleveland, United States

    • Hot water is mixed with wood ash to create a lye to cook the bark, neutralizing the pH with its gentle alkalinity
    • Rinsed and cooked bark is picked by hand, strand by strand, to remove any remaining impurities and discoloration
    • Clean, cooked fiber is beaten by hand for at least an hour to reduce long bark to a pulp
    • Clean, cooked fiber is beaten by hand for at least an hour to reduce long bark to a pulp
    • The naginata "beater" is a machine that gently pulls apart long fibers in the last stage of fiber preparation. This is the only stainless steel naginata in the U.S., commissioned by the Morgan Conservatory and built by David Reina
    • Hand beaten fiber enters the naginata machine for a final brushing
    • Before any papermaking happens, a gooey formation aid must be mixed from crystalline powder (PMP), or made from the roots of a flowering plant that we cultivate in Cleveland (Abelmoschus manihot)
  • III

    Sheet formation and finishing

    The Korean tradition involves vigorous vat work, pressing, parting, and drying sheets

    Sheet formation and finishing

    Cleveland, United States

    • In the Korean tradition, a flexible bamboo screen supported by a wood frame, suspended over the vat, is dipped multiple times in various directions to create a strong, thin sheet
    • The bamboo screen is placed carefully on top of previous sheets to couch (lay down) the fresh sheet
    • A couching log helps smooth away air bubbles and encourage the new sheet to adhere to the paper below
    • The bamboo screen is removed while the new wet sheet stays below on the growing post of paper
    • The wet stack of paper is pressed in a hydraulic jack press to remove excess water before parting and drying
    • Threads laid down during the couching process are removed one by one after pressing to help part sheets, two at a time, for strong laminated (2-ply) paper
    • Sheets are parted damp, two at a time for strong laminated (2-ply) paper, before drying
    • Damp sheets are brushed onto flat surfaces to dry

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