Making Paper Threads: My Way

A bobbin with paper thread.


What I like is the irregularity of my thread: thick and thin and the black specks.


My thread is made from paper from Japanese account books I got at flea markets in Japan years ago. It’s commonly used for making paper threads. Long, long ago I made paper thread from old sewing pattern paper.


Before credit cards, people charged things on the pages in account books. Sometimes pages have red stamps which make the woven cloth even more interesting. I didn’t find any in this account book, though.


You take a page and fold and cut it in a certain way.


You pinch off the cut strips so you get a long length to make a thread.


You want a long length after you carefully pinch the uncut areas to separate the new thread from the cut paper.


Make a paper quill instead of using a plastic bobbin.


Starting the paper strip into the quill on the bobbin winder. I was told a spinning wheel can be used instead of a bobbin winder.


As you crank, guide the strip onto the tip of the winder so it twists the paper into the thread.


The thread will have lumps where the cut strips were pinched off the paper.


After twisting a bit, I wind the twisted paper onto the quill. Here you can see again that the paper was made into a long thread before twisting.


I used the clear illustrations and text to make my uneven threads with the slubs. You can also use the book to make paper that is absolutely regular if you prefer.


20 thoughts on “Making Paper Threads: My Way”

  1. A wonderful lesson. Thank you Peggy for showing this in detail. I will try it. I SO appreciate your explanations.

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  2. Oh that is just fascinating! I wish I’d kept my father’s old maps – he was a land surveyor – I bet they would behave made wonderful strong thread. I’m a basket weaver as well as a cloth weaver – this has given me all kinds of ideas. I may have to devise a tapestry loom. What do you use for warp?

    Lori

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    • I was thinking of unmercerized cotton but now I think I’ll use paper thread I got in Japan that is smooth and regular. I’m thrilled with your comment. Makes me glad I like to make posts.
      Peggy

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      • It was funny, I was just watching an old Burke video, where warn out linen clothing was then proccessed into paper. The printing press arose, and the oldest surviving print which is dated on the paper was in the 1300’s. He admits it’s not likely the oldest print, but it’s actually date, so no guessing and conjecture involved. And was after the first foot powered looms to weave the linen which began to be spun with spinning wheels so that yarn production could keep up with the increased demand for yarn on the loom technology.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this! I love this and will use this technique. I used to coil paper or dried grass for making baskets.

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  4. Interesting process. Love the detail you provide in describing the technique. As always, an excellent teacher. Thanks Peggy.

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  5. I took a workshop with the author of the book you mentioned. She had us use drop spindles to spin our paper yarn. Also there are some videos on paper spinning on YouTube by Susan Byrd. Her book is also very informative, “A Song of Praise for Shifu”.

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  6. This is wonderful, Peggy . I’m very intrigued. I wonder what you can and cannot use the finished cloth for? I’m assuming you wouldn’t want to be getting them wet.
    Thank you for your reply and continued sharing a really interesting information!

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    • I’m told you can wash it. I have gotten good comments and plan to put them as my next post–including your good question. Read the other comments for another book and I think web place.
      Peggy

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  7. Wonderful post, Peggy. I have hanji that I made at Penland with Aimee Lee. Perhaps you may have inspired a project?

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  8. I’ve been trying this with some sheets of Japanese calligraphy paper and a drop spindle. I think I’ve generally got the hang of it but wondering if there are any tricks to join the strips when they tear?

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