A paper trail around Museu do Papel

When I received the full agenda for the two day blog trip after the jampacked Travel Bloggers Unite Conference some might be surprised that the bit that jumped out the most was a trip to the Paper Museum. Many may yawn at the thought of seeing how this plain, flat ‘old fashioned’ material is made, but me, it filled me with visions of being able to make my own paper… imagine a never ending supply of deliciously beautiful ‘papel’ to scribble on, write lists on and doodle to my hearts content. Like lots of ladies I am a stationary addict!

We had arrived!

And the Museo do Papel Terras de Santa Maria didn’t fail to thrill. We were given a private tour of the award winning museum by our enthusiastic guide Antonio. The museum is an actual old factory, which still makes paper today, but more for the use of selling in the museum.

Paper… ready to make more paper!
Antonio stirring the water and cotton pulp

Antonio showed us the original guillotines for cutting up the white rags which were used to make the pulp to make paper. All you need is some old rags, a guillotine (or scissors), water and a sieve to make your own beautiful home made paper. I had the opportunity to have a go myself and am proud to announce that after two attempts I successfully created one piece of Portugese pulp paper…

Step 1 – turn the rags into pulp
Step 2 – Catching the pulp in water
Step 3 – slowly shake the water off the pulp
Step 4 – Press the pulp onto a piece of cloth
Step 5 – Success! My first piece of paper made by me 🙂

All the paper at the museum is made from recycled material… either cotton rags or old paper. In fact the same paper can be recycled 7 or 8 times before it is too low quality to stick together. Impressive!

At the end of the museum we moved through to the drying rooms, where row upon row of sheets of paper were hanging to dry, ready to be made into paper bags, it was paper heaven.

The Museu do Papel are up for their second award at the end of this month and are heading to Dubrovnik for the Heritage Museum Awards, I wish them all the best and hope this brilliantly preserved paper factory and museum every success for the future.


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