Our next excursion was to a paper factory, to see how t-shirts are recycled into handmade and screenprinted rag paper. These papers are sold in the UK in outlets such as Paperchase. My mother is an employee of a charity shop, and having known that many ‘rag’ clothes unfit for sale in the shop were sent to India for recycling, this was particularly interesting for her to hear about. The process is as follows in these photographs. The men work 12 hour shifts, and I was surprised that those working with their hands in the water-paper pulp tanks all day did not wear gloves. The work is labour intensive and the atmosphere pretty smelly, of the local rubbish for recycling, and the heady smell of printing inks.
After shredding, strips of fabric are sorted into colour ples. A day at the factory is dedicated to making paper of a single colour. We visited on a ‘white day’.
Fabric strips are blended with water to form a pulpy solution, feeding large tanks on the factory floor.
Pairs of men dip a large mesh frame into the water to catch an even layer of pulp. A layer of scrim is laid on top…
…and flipped onto the pile of wet paper.
Excess water is squeeaed out of the pile before loading onto a wheelbarrow.
The remaining excess water is removed by a mechanical press.
The paper is separated from the laters of scrim…
… and hung out to dry in a huge shed.
Quality control occurs at this point.
The paper is fed through a roller press between sheets of metal…
… and cut to size with a guillotine.
Selected papers are screen printed.
Registration is acheived by slotting paper into cardboard tabs taped to a glass bed.
Packed for transport.
Handmade notebooks were made by six men; two making covers, two stitching signatures and two glueing and finishing.
Cardboard was also recycled at the factory.
… to this.