Just few kilometres off Jaipur, this small town of Sanganer is mostly famous for block printing and blue pottery. Little did we know that it also houses some of India’s biggest paper industries that export hand-made paper worldwide. Accidentally discovering Salim’s Paper Industry in one of Sanganer’s lanes, we just thought of maybe sourcing few sheets and diaries. Never before we had witnessed paper-making on such a large scale. We could see a dozen boxes getting ready to be shipped to Far East. The moment we entered, they arranged for a person to show us around (We didn’t even ask for one). Much grateful!
Upon entering, fabric was the first thing we saw and it perplexed us but actually they make paper out of fabric scraps that comprise of knit leftovers, unsold undergarments etc. They use leftover paper cuttings as well. They crush the scraps and convert them to a pulpous form which is left to rotate in tubs of water. After circulation it either goes through rollers (machine pressing) to get a uniformly even paper or is manually pressed to get a more textured & uneven surface (the handmade sheets as we call them!)
After the papers are pressed, they are dried and then undergo inspection by a QC person, who carefully sifts through the sheets as if reading an enormous tome (Above, right picture).
While in the pulpous stage, sometimes dried flowers, petals, leaves are also added to the mixture to achieve the handmade sheet, the likes of what we get at the stationary stores- this is the story behind the marigold petals engraved on the sheet. They also add seeds, like in the picture below, they added tomato seeds. So, after you use the sheet, instead of discarding it, you could crush the sheet and bury it in soil and you can be assured of a tomato sapling coming up in a few days. (This is what we were told)
This industry was super organized and they incorporated very little mechanisation. Much of hand labour was used. We could see women from 20s right till 70s, squatted on the floor, involved at different stages of paper-making.
We got hold of the few diaries we could, although they go out of stock the moment they are on display. So for a diary collector, if you are, you know what we mean!
We visited another paper industry close by called Kaagzi Industries. It had a similar structure and a storehouse full of paper products that are exported. Would highly recommend to visit both of them.