When many people think of how paper is made, they think of modern inventions – the printing press and paper mills. Most people don’t realize that there are still a few people who purposely make paper by hand in today’s technological society.
According to an article in the New York Times Magazine by Mark Levine titled, “Can a Papermaker Help to Save Civilization?” Timothy Barrett “…has dedicated his life to unlocking the mysteries of paper, which he regards as both the elemental stuff of civilization and an endangered species in a digital culture.”
Levine wrote that connoisseurs consider Barrett’s paper to be some of the “world’s most perfect paper.” The Library of Congress and Newberry Library in Chicago often use his paper to mend some of their most important items. Also, his paper is underneath the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. In the article, Barrett said a visitor probably wouldn’t notice the paper underneath those important documents; however, he said, “But if you kind of turn your head sideways and squint, you can see it.”
Many people say that the days of paper are over. Digital technology is going to replace paper. However, paper has an enduring quality that digital technologies just can’t seem to match.
Here is a short quote from Barrett in the article:
“Sometimes I worry that handmade books and paper are going the way of the horse-drawn carriage,” he mused, “and that I’m one of those enthusiasts who get really into making replicas of buggies. But I don’t think so.” He continued: “Paper is a big part of who we are. I like to imagine someone falling in love, and writing a note to his sweetheart on a piece of well-made paper. It’s got to be more meaningful than sending an e-mail.”
If you get a chance, you should read this article. It goes into detail about the process of making paper by hand as well as the history of paper. It’s very enlightening.
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