Photography & words: © Anna Rubingh
In the north of England, tucked away in the countryside, The Paper Foundation hand crafts paper using traditional methodes. "It has become a rare craft," master papermaker Tom tells me, "there are only a small handful of traditional papermakers left in the whole of Europe."
Each sheet of paper is made individually by hand, one at the time. “We use traditional fibres that have always been used to make paper, such as linen, cotton, hemp and flax.” Their paper is used by leading museums, libraries and artists worldwide, with clients including the Guggenheim, the Vatican, the English Royal Household, The British Library and many more.
Tom’s colleague Sam stirs a basin containing paper pulp with her arm. She then pulls a frame through the basin after which she uses tweezers to remove the irregularities of the wet fresh paper in the frame. She then flips the window onto a woollen cloth. "The first one usually fails, just like baking pancakes," she laughs. Not this time.
The shelves on the walls are full of old frames and much of the equipment is antique, saved from destruction out of love for the craft. After shovelling, each fresh wet sheet is stacked between woollen cloths then the pile goes into the press. This is how most of the water is squeezed out. Jets of water drip down. Out of the press follows another round of checks and a brush is used to remove imperfections again before the paper is pressed once more.
Tom holds the paper up to the light. "It comes very precisely, the end result has to be perfect," he says. It’s a labour of love.
Although most of our paper is made to order for individual orders, there is also a stock range available through their online shop.