Glossary of Paper Terms
A plant grown in the Philippines whose fibres are used for making paper
Paper that is free from any acid content or other substances that are likely
to have a negative effect on the paper or its ability to last over time (see
Alkaline means base and is defined as anything that has a pH
over 7.0 and is free of acids.
Paper that is not only acid- free but also lignin and sulfur free. Most
commonly used to repair and restore historic documents, archival paper must
be long lasting without causing deterioration to itself or other materials it
may come into contact with.
A method of treating fabric or paper with wax before dyeing, so the treated
area does not take colour.
A chlorine solution used to whiten pulp in papermaking.
In a sheet of paper, chain lines run perpendicular to the laid lines. In
a papermaking mould, laid lines are woven together by very thin wire or silk
threads. Watermark lines, also known as chain lines are formed from these threads
in the newly formed sheet.
A paper collage process in which sheets of paper are laminated together
by the pressure of the etching press and glue. This process allows for layers
of coloured areas to be achieved without having to separate plates.
A Japanese term for mulberry bark, commonly referred to as any paper with
inclusions of mulberry bark.
One of the most commonly used plant fibres in the making of western papers.
It is also called rag or linters. Cotton is the purest
form of cellulose produced in nature and as such it requires the least amount
of processing before it can be used.
The wooden frame that rests on top of a mould and defines the edge of a
sheet during hand papermaking. Deckle edges are the feathered edges of a sheet
created when the pulp thins towards the edge of the deckle frame.
A tough, wiry grass that grows without cultivation in the semi-arid parts
of Spain and North Africa. The fibre it produces is smooth and soft.
Paper weight can be measure in a variety of ways. The most accurate and
most common measure for decorative papers is in grimmage whereby
the weight measured in g/m2 refers to the weight in grams of exactly one square
meter of paper. One gram is equal to .0022 pounds.
The inner bark of a plant grown in Japan. It is considered the noblest fibre
and has exquisite natural sheen.
This lovely translucent paper has a gentle sheen with soft, delicate strands
of fibre, making it an ideal paper for lampshades, screens and accents for invitations.
An older name for abaca, manila hemp is related to the banana plant and
its leaf fiber is often used in papermaking. Not to be confused with true hemp-cannabis
sativa, or the marijuana plant.
A long, rough fibre from the mulberry tree that produces strong, absorbent
sheets of paper. Kozo is the most common fibre used in Japanese papermaking.
Paper with a prominent pattern of ribbed lines in the finished sheet. It
is customary for the laid lines to run across the width and the chain lines
(see above) to run vertically.
Deep, rich earth tones in solid or pinto patterns are the allure
of these vegetable-dyed papers from Nepal. Lokta is handmade from the Daphne
shrub and when glued down takes on the look of leather-ideal for bookmaking!
Paper that is produced on a rapidly moving machine which forms, dries, sizes
and presses the sheet. This process forms an extremely uniform sheet.
A flat screen with wire mesh onto which the deckle is placed during hand
A sheet of paper that simulates the look of handmade paper but is actually made
by a machine called a cylinder mould.
A soft, wrinkled Japanese paper specially treated to be strong and water-resistant.
Momi metallic papers are machine made but crinkled by hand and covered with
a paste of imitation gold or silver.
Considered to be the everlasting paper as it has been found in perfect condition
in tombs and temples dating back to 2700 B.C., papyrus has been used for painting,
writing with a variety of inks and bookbinding. After the style of the ancient
Egyptians, the pith of the papyrus plant is cut into thin strips and soaked
in water. The hydrated strips are then cut to the length of the sheet to be
made. With cotton sheets to absorb the water, parallel strips are topped with
an equal number of perpendicular strips to create a sheet. Dark Papyrus is soaked
longer in water to achieve a darker colour and a less solid sheet.
pH (potential of Hydrogen)
In lay terms, pH is the measure of availability of free hydrogen ions representing
the balance between the acid and alkaline components of a material. 7pH (pH
neutral) represents a balance between the acid and alkaline components; 0 pH
is very acidic and a 14pH is very alkaline (see acid-free).
A misnomer in Asian papers. Rice rarely plays a part in the manufacture
of papers in Asia. Quite often, the unryus are confused with what people believe
to be rice papers (see Unryu below).
A wild shrub native to the Philippines which is harvested in a manner very
similar to mulberry. Limbs are trimmed, the bark is stripped off and the inner
fibre of the branch is boiled and beaten to make paper. Due to its superlative
strength and natural sheen, salago is the fibre of choice to make currency in
A Japanese word for paper.
A papers sizing refers to the additives or solutions that have been
added to the fibre either during the beating process (internal sizing) or after
the sheet is dried (external sizing). The amount of sizing in or on a paper
determines its resistance to moisture. The more sizing, the less absorbent the
paper and vice-versa.
A flexible bamboo or reed screen used in Japanese papermaking.
Meaning cloud dragon paper in Japanese, unryu is characteristic
of paper containing strands of fibre that are added to the sheet to create contrast
From the Japanese wa, meaning Japan, and shi meaning paper
washi refers to any Japanese paper, traditionally made or otherwise.