Anupam Chakraborty & the art of papermaking, Part 2
For long, paper has been an artist’s medium, an artistic medium. There has also been an art of making the medium itself. Anupam Chakraborty tells us his story of reviving the art of papermaking and bookbinding in India.
[Continued from Part 1.]
Biswajit Dey: You’re specifically using organic materials, dyes and other resources. Your emphasis is ‘organic’. Apart from promoting a ‘greener’ world, does this emphasis give you an advantage over other handmade paper manufacturers and book-binders?
Anupam Chakraborty: Making handmade paper or a hand-bound book is primarily an organic process; natural and crude in one way, personal and unique in another way. Besides developing aesthetic sensibilities in an organic manner, a handmade paper or a hand-bound book aspires for a greener future. We must realize the potential of propagating it in a country rich in natural resources and learn the usage of it. We should integrate organic materials for papermaking and book binding.
At our Academy we make papers from various indigenous plant fibres such as, banana, ramie, jute, sun-hemp, sisal and also from cotton rags and denim. We don’t use wood pulp and rayon based fibre. To make book covers we use khadi and cotton fabric along with matka, muga and tassar silk. We negate the use of synthetic or polyester based fabric. Flour paste is used as an adhesive and cotton thread is used for binding. Often we use natural/vegetable dyes for dying pulp and fabric. Occasionally soya ink is being used for printing purpose. Process of making such earth-friendly papers and books are tedious and time consuming affair. As a result they cost much more than the ready-made stuff available in the market. Maybe for these reasons big handmade paper manufacturers are not practicing this trade and book publishers are not showing interest.
We produce custom made paper and while making a paper or a book for myself or for a client a lot of things come into consideration. Selection of fibre, beating time, paper texture, book format, sewing method, selection of fabric, page set-up and many more. But in a normal paper manufacturing unit or in a bookbinding unit none of these areas are kept under consideration. They just produce paper and bind books as per market demand. Market or an individual dictates the manufacturing units. Whereas, there are more personal elements associated with our work.
I don’t know whether I am getting an advantage over other handmade papermakers and book-binders for using organic materials. But for sure, I am enjoying the entire process of making earth-friendly products.
Arpita Dasgupta says ... "Thank you for the informative and inspiring post. I think it would be very nice if we can introduce organic papermaking in school level education (SUPW /Fine arts)."
Swati rao says ... "It was a great interview and covers lot of insight about handmade paper future and need to switch back to the traditional techniques. Handmade paper have so much artistic potential which can be explored as rightly said by Anupam sir by different people in art and design field, instead of making it so commercialized. I am looking forward for your industry set up so that you can hire designers like us, who have interest but need someone like you to work with. Swati Rao (National Institute of design, Ahmedabad)"
Amit Pal says ... "It's inspiring and awesome! An insight opener.........."
Manjari Chakravarti says ... "Having had the privilege of following Anupam's journey, of attending his book-binding workshop, and of seeing his excellent work as an artist, i am very happy to read this article, which has discussed all the points relevant to his art and craft in great detail...Thank you."
Purnaa Deb says ... "thanks a lot for this wonderful interview..it would help me a lot for my dissertation paper..!!! thanks again,,:)"