When was the last time you visited your local stationer for some paper or writing implements?
How fast can you say paper–papyrus–parchment?
Papyrus: The Mother of Paper
Papyrus (plural papyri) was first produced around 3000 BCE as the standard writing material for the Ancient Egyptians. It was so popular it spread to many places throughout the world including Greece, Rome, and Syria.
How is a papyrus scroll made? Papyrus actually comes from the papyrus sedge plant that is native to Africa. In ancient Egypt, it was largely cultivated in the Nile Delta. The stems of the plant are thinly cut and then pasted to each other until they become sheets almost like paper. It would normally be sold in rolls that would stretch out up to 30 meters in length. These were used for long texts such as legal documents and literature. If it needed to be shorter, it would have to be cut into smaller scrolls.
Around 200 BC, the King of Egypt felt that his library at Alexandria was threatened by the Ancient Greek library located in the city of Pergamum. Thus he ordered an embargo of exporting papyrus to Pergamum. As a response, the King of Pergamum told his people to develop a replacement to papyrus that would also be more durable and lasting than tanned leather. This is how parchment was developed.
Parchment is created from animal skin, such as from cows or sheep and is not to be confused with tanned leather. Parchment is a form of leather but with more elaborate processing.
The skin needs to be washed, scraped, soaked in lime, stretched out, then scraped again. This lengthy process was repeated until everything was cleansed, leaving only the skin. After that, it was wetted, coated with chalk, and smoothed with pumice on both sides. Whereas tanned leather only allowed for one side to be written on along with poor ink adhesion, the rigorous parchment making process provided the ability to write on both sides with high durability and flexibility. These properties allowed for the creation of books and codices, giving easier access to information compared to a papyrus scroll that had to be unrolled then rolled back up. It was popularly used from the 4th to 15th centuries as the standard for European scribes, and it is also what you see in the illuminated manuscripts in many monasteries and museums.
The word paper is actually a derivative from papyrus. Paper is credited as being developed by Ts’ai Lun in 105 AD, who was a Chinese official in the royal court. Before paper was invented, bamboo and silk were the main writing materials in China. However, silk and bamboo were too expensive and rare, so it wasn’t practical to use for mass writing. With the growth and development of Chinese literature, he wanted to figure out a way to create a more readily accessible writing material.
The most important thing to remember is that paper is fibrous, meaning it comes from the combination of fibres such as from wood, cotton, and linen. The first sheets of paper were created from the pulp of mulberry tree bark, old rags and fishing nets, and hemp. These were pounded and macerated by hand until they were thin enough. Afterwards, they were laid out to dry, which then became paper. However, it was not until around the 12th century that it became a very popular writing material throughout the world. Now, paper is so popular that we have over 30 different types of in stock here at CatPrint due to customer demand! Check out our stock here: http://www.catprint.com/pages/what-we-offer/paper
So what’s the gist of it?
Papyrus – shredded papyrus sedge stems
Parchment – animal skin
Paper – pulps of fibers beaten into thin sheets
Paper? Papyrus? Papyrus paper?
The term “paper” itself comes from the word “papyrus”, which is the plant that the Ancient Egyptians processed to write on. However, papyrus isn’t actually paper. The Egyptians sliced the stem of the papyrus plant into thin strips and pasted them together until they formed something that looked like scrolls and sheets. This is not how you create paper today.
From Goopy to Sheets
To actually make paper, you need fibres. Fibres can be from various tree barks, cotton, and many other natural sources. The fibres are then soaked and mashed into a goopy mold, the mold is then pounded into really thin sheets, and finally hung or laid out to dry.
Paper > Bamboo + Silk
The invention of paper is credited to a man named Ts’ai Lun, a Chinese official back in 105 A.D. During this time, China was writing on either silk or bamboo sheets. The issues with this method were that silk took too long to cultivate and process to create the scrolls, and bamboo was heavy to transport. Not only were they problematic, but they were also expensive and hard to come across (just think about the effort in processing, shipping, and handling these raw materials 2,000 years ago). You couldn’t readily call CatPrint and say, “This is the type of stock that I want my books to be printed on.”
At this time, the growth of literature also created the need for cheaper and readily accessible writing material. Ts’ai Lun invented the first sheets of paper from pounding the wet pulps of the bark of mulberry trees, rags, hemp, and old fish nets and leaving it out to dry for about a day. Now, instead of having to pay heavy prices or waiting for the next shipment of silk and bamboo, you could just make paper. The best thing about this was that it was easily accessible, and just about anyone could do it if they had the time and material!
Despite this process dating to almost 2000 years ago, we are still using this method to create sheets of paper now, just at a more rapid and advanced technological level. Now we have tree farms dedicated to being cut down for the creation of paper. There is equipment to chip the wood in preparation for it to become pulp. Complex machines are used instead of hand-macerating the pulps into sheets. Instead of hanging out the pulps to dry for days, hot rollers quickly dry the pulp into paper in a matter of minutes.
Think of how instant and readily accessible papermaking seemed to be 2000 years ago, yet is now even more instant. CatPrint already has 30+ different types of paper ready for you to choose from, which you can see and feel in our sample booklets. Try out our Instant Quote and order your prints today!
Just For Fun
Here’s a fun link on how to make your own paper at home!
What is the Pantone Matching System?
Pantone Colors are colors within the Pantone Matching System that make it easier to match colors across different printers. It is especially useful so that if you talk to a graphic designer in California, they can match the color you want with the printer in New York, and your prints can come out in the exact colors that you want!
Each color within the system has a specific Pantone number which allows everyone who utilizes the Pantone system to know how much of certain inks to put together to create a specific color. These are organized in sheets with the color on top and the number on the bottom.
The History of the Pantone Matching System
The Pantone system was created around 1962 when a part-time Pantone Print Company employee and Chemistry student named Lawrence Herbert wanted to figure out a better way to organize the 60 or so pigments that Pantone had to print on. Herbert narrowed down the 60 pigments to just 12 colors that could be mixed and matched in specific ways to make every other color. Due to Herbert’s chemistry background, he came up with mathematical formulas to help decide exactly how much of each color would go into making the other colors. When Herbert got a handle on this, he bought out the printing segment of Pantone for $50,000 (because the other side of the company was exactly that much in debt) and started systematizing the colors in order to universalize his newly made system.
Herbert Solves Kodak’s Problem
Herbert realized that not having universal colors for printing was especially a problem when Kodak had multiple companies printing the packaging for their products. The multiple companies would print the packaging with different yellows, leaving some packages darker than others. Customers thought that the darker packages were older and meant the product inside had gone bad. When the Pantone Matching System was released, Kodak no longer had a problem with merchandise staying on the shelves due to the consistent color of their packaging.
Pantone Colors are Important
Since the first universalized color system was made, Pantone has continued to create color systems for textiles, plastics, as well as other types of materials so that everyone can have a standardized color system. There is also the color guide which is a huge book of all of the colors that has a Pantone number. Different countries and states (including Texas) even claim Pantone numbers for their flags.
You may have also heard about the Pantone Color of the Year! Allegedly, there is a secret committee that have a secret meeting in a secret location in Europe to decide on the Pantone Color of the Year!
This year’s color is Emerald, and here is a chart so you can see the colors for the past 13 years.