MATERIALS: Ground Earth

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For the second edition of our Materials highlight, we are taking a look at the making process of our Ground Earth papers.

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The hard plant fibres need to be broken down to be made into pulp. As an alternative to using caustic soda, an inorganic corrosive compound which can be harmful to the environment, the preparation of the Denar fibre uses natural soda ash, which means the run-off water can be used as a fertiliser for local crops.

Once the fibres are softened and churned into a fine pulp, using a wooden & mesh frame the paper maker scoops layers of the pulp into the frame, draining excess water and layering the pulp to create the paper sheet.

images via Khadi

images via Khadi

Our paper supplier has been working with local Bhutanese farmers since the 1980s, in the remote and landlocked location of the eastern Himalayas.

The ground earth papers are made from Denar fibre, which comes from the high growing variety of Lokta trees, found in the towering Himalayan forests of Eastern Bhutan.

Harvesting of this natural material provides much needed work for the locals of these remote regions.

Bark is stripped from the tree, and the plant is cropped above ground, ensuring it can grow back and be re-harvested, making it a renewable resource.

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Each frame is propped up, allowing the layered pulp to air dry in the natural elements. The paper sheets are treated by the farmers as though they are another crop, alongside buckwheat, mustard and chili!

After the papers are dried and removed from their frames, they are covered on one side with a ground earth pigment. These coloured blocks of natural earth are used in traditional Bhutanese architecture.

The sheets have a distinctive earthy smell and a matt, dusty finish. Each sheet is wonderfully tactile and has its own beautiful handmade imperfections.

 

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‘ i got lost’

our print series inspired by Moroccan travels is back in stock and ready to ship

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Alessandra Chambers