Making Paper in Bhutan

Thimphu, Bhutan

Thimphu, Bhutan

From the Archives: Bhutan, 2013

The Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory sits on a hill overlooking the mountainous terrain of Thimphu, Bhutan. The paper factory illustrates the government’s resolve to support the local economy by preserving the country’s traditional arts, including paper making.

Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory, Bhutan

Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory, Bhutan

Jungshi means “natural” and the entire paper making operation is true to that name. Bark from several species of Daphne and Edgeworthia shrubs goes through a process of transformation from bark to pulp to paper, known as deh-sho. Bhutan’s Forestry Department uses sustainable practices to farm the shrubs and supply the bark to several paper making operations around the country, including Jungshi. Jungshi produces about 1,500 sheets of paper per day.

Bark from the shrubs is soaked in water to break down its structure, then strained from the liquid and brought inside the factory. The stringy mass is fed into a grinder which spits out the pulp into a big vat, like a giant bowl of oatmeal.

Fiber to Pulp :: Bhutan

Fiber to Pulp :: Bhutan

The next step is where the magic happens. I was at the factory in the late afternoon when golden light was pouring in the windows as this woman worked with the paper screen. Watery pulp is spread evenly across the screen, then the screen is lifted out, aligned with the growing stack of wet paper, released on top of it and peeled off from the opposite edge, leaving behind the new sheet of paper.

Preparing pulp on the screen

Preparing pulp on the screen

Lifting the screen to the stack of paper

Lifting the screen to the stack of paper

Aligning the screen with the stack

Aligning the screen with the stack

Releasing the screen on top of the stack

Releasing the screen on top of the stack

Peeling the screen away from the opposite edge

Peeling the screen away from the opposite edge

Revealing the new sheet of paper

Revealing the new sheet of paper

Stacks of paper sit throughout the factory — some of them wet, some of them dry, some of them sandwiched and pressed for flatness.

Sheet by sheet, dry paper is hung from an easel where it’s brushed off and inspected for quality.

The finished paper is stamped with the Jungshi logo, then either shipped out from the factory or placed in the paper shop at the site. According to the U.N., demand for handmade paper from Bhutan comes mainly from Sweden and the U.K. Paper is used for greeting cards, gift wrap, stationery, books and certificates.

The Jungshi paper shop offers a nice collection of sheets and paper products, some of which contain additional leaves and flowers that grow wild around the landscape of Bhutan. Perhaps you recognize what’s been added here?

Art wpc

World Textures

Gathering of Nations :: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Gathering of Nations :: Albuquerque, New Mexico

This week’s photo challenge: textures, one of my photography addictions. Hope you enjoy this amuse-bouche of textures from around the world. Next post on Portugal coming this Friday! See you then!

Bali

Bali

 

Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta

 

Vietnam

Vietnam

 

New Zealand

New Zealand

 

Oman

Oman

 

Vietnam

Vietnam

 

Vietnam

Vietnam

 

Bhutan

Bhutan

 

France

France

 

Bali

Bali

 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

 

Myanmar

Myanmar

 

Vietnam

Vietnam

 

Cambodia

Cambodia

 

Maldives

Maldives

 

Borneo

Borneo

 

Morocco

Morocco

 

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Miscellaneous wpc

A Quest to See Killer Whales

We were very lucky on our quest to see killer whales yesterday. We spotted quite a few of them, just south of Vancouver in the Strait of Georgia, not too far from the shoreline at the airport. Sockeye salmon are spawning right now — heading toward the Fraser River — but they have to get past all of these killers and a flotilla of fishermen in order to get there. Competition is unusually fierce this season, with far fewer numbers of salmon than in years past. According to an article by the Vancouver Sun, the wild salmon population has declined 80% since 1990. As a result, resident killer whales roam a larger territory more frequently, moving back and forth across the Strait of Georgia in search of food. Over-fishing and global warming are increasingly affecting these amazing creatures.

Granny, identified by the small notch in her dorsal fin and gray patch at the base

Granny, identified by the small notch in her dorsal fin and gray patch at the base

In captivity, female orcas live to be about 30 years but yesterday we saw the J Pod matriarch — a female named Granny, estimated to be ONE HUNDRED FIVE YEARS OLD. Granny even has her own Wikipedia page! Can you imagine the changes she has experienced in her lifetime? Would you give up eating wild salmon if you knew it would benefit the ocean ecosystem around you, and Granny as well?

As another world-renowned elder would say: Do or do not. There is no try.

Miscellaneous wpc
Bhutan

Weekly Photo Challenge: Frames of the World

I love this week’s photo challenge: Frame. I’m sharing three of my favorite travel photos.

Oman

Oman

Oman
We woke up early after a splendidly silent night in Wahiba Sands. The sun wasn’t quite above the horizon. I opened the door within a door at the entrance to our desert camp and found two amazing views in the frame — a woodcarving that told its own story and a landscape that holds a thousand years of stories I’ll never know.

 

Bhutan

Bhutan

Bhutan
This bridge had me at hello. With hundreds of colorful prayer flags, all I wanted to do was watch and wait to see who walked through the wood frame at the other side.

 

Myanmar

Myanmar

Myanmar
Sometimes when you’re traveling there’s a moment of beauty that catches you completely by surprise. This was one of them, at one of the thousands of temples in Bagan. The tall doorway and ironwork framed this man perfectly, who was contentedly out for an afternoon sweep.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning in Cuba

Morning in Trinidad, Cuba

Morning in Trinidad, Cuba

The patchwork masonry catches my eye. I walk closer and see her looking out from her window onto the street below. I hold up my camera to ask, by gesturing, if I can take her photo. She smiles, laughs and points to the wrap on her head, as if to say “Really? Me? But what about my hair?” I smile back. No matter, señora. It’s morning in Cuba, I still can’t believe I’m here, and everything is beautiful — including you.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Look Up

Stash your shoes at the entry and have a look. These are the beautiful mandalas of the Sri Mariamman Temple in Singapore. Whether you worship, firewalk or come to admire the prolific deity sculptures here, this temple is a feast for the eyes and a quiet respite from the hum of the city.

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Spare Hot Air

balloon01

I love the colors and shapes of the Great Reno Balloon Race. Every September, at the base of the mountains leading up to Lake Tahoe, the sky fills with hot air balloons from all over the country.

balloon12

At Dawn Patrol, balloons begin inflating in the morning darkness. Close your eyes and it sounds like dragons breathing as the balloons awake from their limp demeanor and stand upright from baskets on the grassy pitch. Only a handful of balloons are qualified to fly in the dark. They glow with light and take flight like khom loy.

The sun appears on the horizon, silhouetting the distinct shapes of balloons awaiting take-off. A fly-over signals the beginning of the Mass Ascension. One by one, the balloons release and float off. By mid-morning the view above is filled with color, like teardrop gemstones hanging in the sky. Simple, elegant, spare, stunning.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

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Miscellaneous wpc

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abstract

potd089

Depth of field and reflection collide in an abstract composition. A Magritte sky silhouettes the trees and mountains of Joffre Lakes, British Columbia.

 

potd090

An outdoor seating area in Singapore becomes a mass of intersecting shapes and surfaces reminiscent of Escher.

 

potd092

In Melaka, shadow and color intermingle at sunset like Rothko and Mondrian went out to play.

 

potd093

O’Keeffe comes to life with organic lines and infinite hues of yellow and orange in Singapore.

Miscellaneous wpc