About Mulberry Paper

Mulberry Paper Basics

First and foremost, if you are serious about making Torn Critters, should know a little bit about Mulberry Paper, the basic types of mulberry paper and thicknesses that are on the market. Mulberry paper is not readily available in most craft stores; therefore, most of your shopping will be done online. You are probably asking yourself “If you carry this paper, why would you share this information with me?” Good Question. Let’s face it, most of us are bargain shoppers, including myself. While we DO carry the BEST paper for creating your torn critters, I know you may come across what looks to be a good deal. Knowing what you are looking for, and what questions to ask will help you determine if the “deal” you found is the right paper to get the job done.

It is important to know that not all mulberry paper is created equally. You should be informed on what type of paper you are purchasing. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions before you buy. Of course, our store carries exactly the type of paper you will need for making torn Teddies.

Where does mulberry paper come from?

I know this does not seem all that important, but you are playing with paper and I always feel that a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. Mulberry Paper is made for the bark of the Saa Tree. The Saa tree grows abundantly in the wild in all over South East Asia (Thailand) in the damp soils along river banks. These trees are not harmed or cut down to create this special paper, which makes this paper environmentally friendly. Once a year, these trees are stripped of their bark and trimmed back. A year later, the tree’s bark grows back completely and the process starts all over again.

Thickness (aka GSM)

When it comes to thickness, GSM is a term you will commonly hear in relation to mulberry paper cardstock. GSM is a paper industry term that stands for Grams per Square Meter. Generally speaking, the higher the GSM, the thicker the mulberry paper will be. Handmade paper and Milled paper that have the same GSM weight will have a different thickness because handmade paper has more “bulk” or texture, whereas milled paper is pressed and dense.

  • Light Weight or Tissue Paper. This paper is anywhere from 30-70gsm in weight. This is an industry standard weight paper and is NOT ideal for making torn critters. This paper is generally used for card making.
  • Medium Weight: This paper is generally 70-90gms. This is an industry standard gsm weight for mulberry paper.  It’s great for cards and backgrounds, but not ideal for making torn critters.
  • Premium Weight: This paper is another industry standard paper and is usually 90-110gms in thickness. This paper is readily passed often refered to as "thick” paper many suppliers. It is wonderful for tearing, but you will need to create multiple layers in order to achieve good results for dimension and fluff.
  • *Heavy Weight: AKA as “Extra Thick”. This IS the paper that you want to use for creating your torn critters. The thickness of this paper is at least 150-165gsm. You can get away with only using one layer when making your critters, but I personally like to use 2 or more layer for extra thickness and dimension. We will cover layering in another chapter.
Few retail craft stores carry Premium Weight or Heavy Weight paper as it is generally a bit more expensive and the batches must be custom ordered and made from the manufacturers. Add the cost of overseas shipping, and the amount of product that needs to be ordered with a low level demand from customers… retail stores just don’t find it worth the hassle. Since we are a “specialty store” we are able to offer these products to other tear bear artists out there. So that there is no confusion with thickness, this is the ONLY thickness of paper we carry.

Textures of Mulberry Paper:

Now that we have covered the general thicknesses of mulberry paper, let us talk texture. Basically, there are 2 different textures when it comes to mulberry paper. You may use any texture you want depending on the look you wish to achieve

  • Smooth: Flat on both front and back sides. This texture does not fluff too well.
  • *Textured: This type of paper is “lumpy” on the front side and smooth and deckled on the back side. This is ideal for making torn critters.

Production of Mulberry Paper:

Lastly, Mulberry paper is produced using 2 different methods.

  • Machine or Milled Paper: This paper is made using classic paper milling machines. Although the same raw materials are used in creating this paper, this paper is denser and more uniform because of the drying and pressing process.
  • *Handmade Mulberry Paper: Perfect for creating soft and fluffy torn critters. This paper is made by traditional techniques using a bamboo deckled mold. Once the bark is collected from the Saa tree, it is soaked and boiled in water to clean and break up the fibers. The fibers are then churned to create a soft pulp which is then bleached or died to a specific color. The pulp is then poured into the mold. The amount and thickness of the pulp will define the thickness and texture of the mulberry paper. They are then lowered into a vat of water to smooth out the pulp. Once smoothed, they are slowly lifted from the water and then tapped to remove any excess water. Finally, the molds are placed in the sun to dry. After the paper has dried, it is removed from the mold leaving a characteristic deckled edge behind.
A note about dyed mulberry papers: White paper is very soft and easy to tear because there are no dyes added to it. Black paper is generally more difficult to tear because of the amount of coloring added to the paper. The more die, the more dense the paper becomes.

Now that I’ve bored you with some details about mulberry paper, I bet you are waiting to get to the fun stuff. Knowledge is power, so at your when you are attending your next crop and someone asks you what you are doing, you’ll be armed with lots of information.