ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Making Paper: Past to Present

Updated on October 20, 2011
 The oldest documented book in the world, Circa 868 CE.
The oldest documented book in the world, Circa 868 CE.

The first recorded history of someone making paper was in China over 2,000 years ago. His name was Ts'ai Lun and it’s believed he did it by grinding up plants, tree bark, linen and hemp to make a pulp. This pulp was spread out on a screen type mat and pressed to remove the water and then left to dry in the sun. The result was paper…one of today’s most widely used products.

Paper was more than likely being made before Ts'ai Lun came along, but he’s the first documented manufacturer…on paper of course. Although, people had been writing and drawing for centuries on cave walls and papyrus before the discovery of paper. Papyrus was the first material resembling modern day paper and was made in Egypt. Papyrus was made by taking the inner part of papyrus stems, flattening them and then pounding them into thin sheets.

It was later discovered if plant fibers were separated and suspended in water they would naturally form a sheet of paper. The process is so simple some make their own.

The art of making paper eventually spread around the world, but it was all being made manually one sheet at a time until 1798. It also consumed a lot of material. Then, it was discovered old rags could also be used, but unfortunately at the time, those too were in short supply. That is until the infamous plague struck Europe killing untold numbers of the population. Then suddenly, there was plenty. This coincidently occurred about the same time the printing press appeared. Books became more readily accessible and an enlightened, better educated society began pondering a better way to make paper.

It was in the 1700s when Rene de Réaumur noticed paper wasps chewing up bits of wood to make a pulpy substance which they used to build their nests. They were making a form of paper! De Réaumur had discovered paper could be made from wood, although he actually never became involved in the craft. That was done by other paper pioneers who formulated ways to more efficiently grind wood and separate the fibers.

However, apparently in Persia, ways to efficiently make paper was relatively light years ahead of their European counterparts. They were using water powered paper mills as early as the 8th century. Modern papermaking began during the early 1800s in Europe with the fourdrinier machine which produces huge rolls of paper rather than individual sheets. Basically, the same dynamics still apply.

Today, although papermaking has become a more scientifically complex process, utilizing computer guided machines, most paper is still processed from wood pulp, cotton or a variety of other textile materials. It’s just produced in vastly larger quantities and at much greater speeds then Ts'ai Lun could have ever imagined.

People still make their own paper, not because they have to, but because it’s fun for both adults and children. It’s also a great way to recycle. Instructions and supplies needed for making homemade paper products can be found at:

Now, imagine a paperless society. Many companies are trying to go paperless via the internet, but operating a business totally without paper is, of course, impossible. Everything from toilet paper to cardboard boxes are made of it…including your paycheck. And what would happen to such industries which manufacture such products as paper weights and paper shredders? Additionally, you couldn’t print out this page!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      sheila b. You are welcome

      Paradise7 Why write something not interesting no one will read? Thanks for the kudos.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      I have a hand-bound book of home-made paper that my brother gave me. I'm afraid to write in it, it's too precious.

      Loved this hub, as I love all of yours. You manage to make the most diverse topics interesting.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      7 years ago

      Maybe you've spurred me on to try papermaking. It's something I've long thought would be fun. Thanks for this informative hub.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Paper is so inexpensive now days, it's a lot of trouble to go through. But people do it as a hobby and they like it. It's also a good way to get the kids to shut up. :)

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      What an interesting topic! I once worked with a lady who made beautiful and unique textured papers by drying and pressing pulp on a piece of window screen. I never had that much patience! ;D


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)