HOW TO MAKE DÓ PAPER
Making Dó paper actually requires more than 100 steps, so here are the most essential ones:
1. CULTIVATING BUSHES (DƯỚNG) FOR RAW MATERIALS (TRỒNG CÂY NGUYÊN LIỆU)
The raw material for Zó paper is called Dó (same as mitsumata in Japan) and Dướng (same as Kozo in Japan). Dướng is cultivated in the region or grow wildly very fast everywhere in the north of Vietnam ( Hoa Binh, Tuyên Quang, Thai Nguyen), but Dó trees is more difficult to grow they only can live in the high moutains. The Dó paper made from Dó bark is well known for being the strongest and most durable paper in Vietnam; it is also the oldest one that appeared more than 800 years ago.
2. HARVESTING RAW MATERIALS (THU HOẠCH NGUYÊN LIỆU THÔ)
After one or two years branches from the shrubs are usually harvested from November to February. The branches are cut off at an angle using a sickle.
3. STEAMING & STRIPPING THE BARK (BÓC VỎ)
The branches are steamed for a few hours, which can be easily done by a few people. Steaming makes it easy to strip the branches off their bark.
Then the branch is held in one hand and the bark in the other, and then both are wedged between the feet so that the bark can be stripped from the branches in such a way that the stripped bark makes a cylinder shape.
4. SCRAPING BLACK BARK (LOẠI BỎ VỎ ĐEN)
After the black bark is softened in water, each bark piece is put on a stand and its outer layer is carefully scraped off with a knife. To heighten the quality, the epidermis is left between the outer layer and the inner layer.
5. BOILING (LUỘC)
The barks are separated and boiled in a large caldron containing a 12% lime solution. The bark is mixed with the solution every 30 minutes for four times so that it boils evenly. Last but not least, the bark is steamed.
Note: If the bark is stocked and dry, it is better to soak it in the water one night before the boiling.
6. BEATING (GIÃ VỎ)
The bark is beaten with an oak stick to loosen the individual fibers. In the original Dó paper making method, the bark is beaten 6 times from right to left and back, turned over and beaten again. It is turned over 6 times in total.
7. MAKING THE SHEETS (SEO GIẤY)
Water, Dó tree’s pulp from the previous step, and “mò” (paper dispersants) are combined in a paper-making vat thoroughly mixed with a bamboo stick.
The bamboo screen (liềm seo) is shaken back and forth to spread the solution evenly over the screen. Eventually, fibers intertwine with each other to make layers. The thickness varies as the mat has been shaken numerous times. Draining off water. When the layers have the desired thickness, the excess water and paper solution are drained off from the mat.
8. PRESSING OUT WATER (ÉP NƯỚC)
Leave the sheets on paper beds overnight, and then add weights to press out the remaining water use a rotating machine. Repeating the press after every few hours as the weight gets lighter.
9. STRIPPING (TÁCH GIẤY)
After pressing off the water, the sheets are being separated one by one.
10. DRYING (PHƠI)
The sheets are pasted one by one on the wall. Each batch counts to 50 sheets. This is the traditional way of Dó paper making. During the drying process, Dó paper acquires its proper stiffness and delicate texture.
11. HOW DO WE USE DO PAPER ?
We use Zó paper made from Dó and Dướng to make different types of papers and products, including such as but not limited to Royal certificate (Sắc phong) and Dong Ho woodblock printing (an Important Intangible Cultural Heritage). We also make other products such as name painting and calligraphy paper, certificate paper, natural dyed paper, envelopes, stationery, postcards, business cards, notebooks, letter paper, etc.