|Chocolat Negro's Paper Workshop.In The Picture Cornelia applying paint to small jewelry bags|
My workshop still a space problem -used to be an old garden tools room
Welcome to my blog ISANDLA PAPER
My name is Chocolat and I have created Isandla Paper in 2006 - a small but up-and- coming dynamic business that manufacturers exquisite handmade paper and paper-products of various colors and designs. I produce loose sheets in various sizes and a range of beautiful handcrafted paper products. I specialize in gift bags, packaging, writing sets, envelopes and corporate gifts.
I am living in South-Africa in the Province of the Eastern Cape.I have started this blog to talk about my business and to share the exciting products we create with you.
Isandla Paper is an eco-sustainable business. I have always been fascinated with reworking recycable material and with re-using discarded items.
The paper and paper products of our range are all made from 100% recycled shredded office paper mixed with the bark of alien invasive trees.
A great deal of South-Africa's water is used by plants that do not belong here. These plants are called invading alien plants because they spread and displace our natural trees and plants. Large areas of good agricultural land and some of the most scenic areas have been invaded.Many invading plants were brought into South Africa for purposes such as forestry plantations.
They grow so well because they do not have natural enemies such as insects, animals and diseases that would have controlled them in their own countries. By clearing alien-invading vegetation Isandla Paper helps also to improve water supplies.
One of the alien invading trees is the Black Wattle which is found in the Eastern Cape where I live.
I think we have reached a point were it is necessary to look at our resources in a new light and to re-use materials.
Our production line starts with boiling and mashing the wattle bark or the bark of other invasive trees in a three legged pot. The wood of the trees that have been harvested serves to fuel the fire of the iron pots. The bark mash is mixed with a pulp made from shredded waste office paper and water. It is then dyed in different colors.
The pulp is diluted with water and put into a vat. A mould is dipped into the vat, shaken evenly and then lifted out with the pulp on it.
Each sheet is tipped out onto a layer of cloth and the layers are build up until they are ready to going to the press. A hydraulic press is used to squeeze as much water out of the sheets as possible.
In 2007 I have added flower paper to our range. For this flowers are picked and collected and added to the pulp.After the pressing process, the sheets are separated again and peeled off the cloth. As between 50 and 60% of the moisture remains in the sheets, the sheets are dried by hanging them up in open sunny areas to dry them completely. Each paper sheet is ironed because this gives the paper a more smooth and glossy surface.
My Product is an all South-African Product, Ethical, Creative and Recycled
The part I enjoy most is transforming or converting the paper into a range of beautiful but modern and trendy products that reflect the spirit of our time.
Many of the products of our range are limited editions because we work with discarded items like plastic lids, onion net, fabric cut off, old buttons, doilies, wire, elastics etc. 80% of the products used for the finishing touches are discarded or waste items or materials than can be transformed into new products.
Each product is unique and is made entirely by hand. Handcrafted from the first to the last step. I use basic manufacturing processes like hand-cutting, hand gluing and hand-weaving.
I started alone in the beginning but I have several south african ladies whom I have trained and who work with me now.
The manufacture of handmade paper is a fascinating and 1000 of years old process. But it is very time-consuming and it's a detailed process. In the case of Isandla Paper the addition of sound ecological principles is an extra effort but the result is great.
Hand-made paper is a luxury today, and a handwritten thank you not on beautiful peronalised stationery shows innate elegance and an appreciation of old ways of communicating in our fast-paced throw-away society.
If you are interested in our projects please follow this blog. I will continously post new articles also about living and working in South-Africa.