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Perfect Paper

Many hundreds of years ago, the invention of paper was very good news for animals such as deer. In the days before paper, parchment was the writing material of choice, but it was from the leathery skin of deer that the parchment was often made. It was good news for book-buyers too, because parchment was very thick, very heavy, and horribly expensive.

The secret of modern paper making lies in knitting together the millions of tiny organic fibres found in trees and plants. This is done by creating a pulp from the plant material and then squeezing it through rollers into flat sheets. Paper should be strong, with just the right amount of absorbency. Ideally, each sheet should be able to take up ink and paint easily, but not so easily that it spreads all over the place!

Inside the paper mill, you will see how the pulp is continuously drawn by suction onto a great rotating drum, and then lifted off the drum by a moving belt made from felt. This process is called 'couching', and it produces fat, wet paper, ready to be dried.

Great steaming rollers slowly dry the paper ready for 'sizing', a quick dip in a bath of chemicals that help the paper achieve just the right level of absorbancy. After another bout of drying the paper is cut to size, and samples are tested by the application of paint and ink.

As the film approaches its end, we see a superb artist at work, using ink on paper to create a beautiful drawing in the style of an engraving. And to round the film off completely, what could be better than the image of four lovely children, painting pictures out in their garden on a lovely sunny day? The kids are happy to know that not a single deer was harmed in the manufacture of their perfect paper ... and so are we!

Duration: 4:31


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This film is also available on the DVD:
'The Magic of Making - Volume 4'.