Saa paper is the paper from the Mulberry tree or mulberry paper as it is called in the West.
Saa paper is sustainable because it cultivation does not mean the felling of any trees, imagine the tree as a sheep and it needs its wool shearing once a year, well the wool is the bark from the Mulberry tree, which is pulled off then goes through the process until it becomes the Mulberry paper we see in Gift shops all over the world as wrapping for notebooks, greetings cards and gift boxes and more recently wine bags.
Here in the north of Thailand the Mulberry trees grow in abundance especially around the greener areas of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and around Laos and Myanmar. They are actually considered a weed and they grow near streams.
The headache for Saa paper wholesalers is not the traditional problems you see in paper manufacturing, it’s the supply, you see the trees grow quite quickly but harvest time for the bark is after rainy season in June to October and in the dry season, the farmer attends to other sources of income making activities.
Therefore it is a very seasonal business, the good news is once made the paper is very durable and lasts decades, so wholesalers need to manage a supply that is in tandem with what the customer requires. Asking for ten tons of paper will mean a lot of emails, calls, visits and getting to know the process in detail.
The Mulberry bark is boiled in large vats filled with water and ash until the fibres in the bark separate and becomes a thin pulp. After a few days it is ready. The paper specialist then dips a custom made frame with a fine screen on one side into the pulp mixture.
He gently swirls the pulp around in the frame, allowing the water to drain off, leaving a thin layer of matted fibres on the screen. This process is repeated until the layer of paper has reached the desired thickness. The frame is then left in the sun to dry out, and after a few hours, the completed sheet of paper is peeled off the frame.
The Mulberry paper specialist can do many things to the pulp at this point to get different effects as required by their customers. Natural dyes can be added to the pulp to make beautiful, vibrant colored sheets of paper. Sometimes logos or images like petals and other organic materials can be mixed and added into the paper. Sometimes he mixes pieces of gold thread into the paper mix for the most dramatic of presentation.
Paper Crafts Thailand has been manufacturing Saa paper for over 25 years and has created many different types of decorative items. It is appreciated by its beautiful texture which enhances the appearance of paper-made items to produce a natural, organic, and yet elegant look. Books, greeting cards, stationery, flowers, and many other items can be made using Mulberry paper.
More recently Saa bark has become very popular with Florists in its rawest form and is coloured and sold in half kilo packs and the florists use it to wrap flowers in and also to actually make the flowers as Saa bark has a ruffled edge which gives it a fuzzy appeal.
Teachers and parents are also demanding that children learn more arts and crafts at school as well as the usual curriculum of Computer based learning. Mulberry paper has a large role in the arts and crafts world introducing children to their imagination and using Mulberry paper’s fuzzy edge to create many different pictures and this expanding their mental horizons.
The arts and crafts world had a heyday in the 1980’s and 1990’s and slowly lost momentum in the 2000’s due to the rise of technology, but arts and crafts are coming back with a force, as people are not that keen on ‘online scrapbooking’ as you can’t feel the paper or feel the benefits of the therapy one has when feeling and cutting paper and creating lovely things with a laptop.
Check out the rest of our website for more information on Paper crafts, scrapbooking, greetings cards and paper gift items that you and your family will love and will last a lot longer than a computer tablet!