We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Mulberry Paper?

By N. Phipps
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Mulberry paper is textured paper commonly used in crafting that is traditionally made from the fibers of the leafy paper mulberry plant. Some homemade versions use ordinary white paper that is processed and soaked to resemble mulberry fibers, and though the end product may carry the “mulberry” name, it’s more in reference to the style than the actual composition. Both types are typically used for the same things, though, and carry the same basic characteristics, namely a dense, thick feel that rips easily and can add texture to things like greeting cards, collages, and scrapbooks. Art conservators and curators sometimes also use this paper to make repairs to damaged paintings or to preserve paper-based art.

Basic Concept

The paper mulberry plant is distinct from the mulberry tree. The plant sits low to the ground and the leaves, together with its thin bark, are what make the best paper. The plant is known scientifically as Broussonetia papyrifera, has a distinctive flaky texture that has been used in papermaking for centuries. Unlike the pulp of ordinary paper trees, which tends to be fine and closely compacted, mulberry fibers are usually softer and more loosely packed, at least on a cellular level. This leads to a paper that is flexible, dense, and usually a bit textured. Even when the paper is produced flat and smooth, it’s usually possible to see plant fibers, which isn’t usually the case with more standard bleached papers.

Main Uses

Traditionally, this sort of paper was used as writing paper, particularly in places where the plants were prolific and widely processed. Japan is one of the most commonly cited examples, and many ancient Japanese paintings and printings were made with paper derived at least in part from paper mulberry leaves. Today, it’s most commonly popular with crafters. It can be used to make cards, envelopes, books, and more. In addition, the paper can be used as a background or border to a variety of different projects. The paper is both strong and lightweight, and as a result is often used by art conservators for making repairs to paintings, maps, and other similar artifacts.

Tearing Techniques

Mulberry paper is generally torn rather than cut. Tearing provides an interesting jagged edge, and also usually allows the fibers a more natural way to bind to and grip the surrounding environment. There are two methods commonly used in tearing this paper. The first method is generally referred to as the lick and tear technique. The paper is folded where desired and then licked or moistened along the fold and subsequently torn.

For more complex shapes and curves, the so-called drawing method is more common. With this technique, cotton swabs are dipped into water and the desired shapes are drawn onto the paper. These shapes can then be carefully torn or pressed out along the dampened lines.

How It’s Made

Although this paper can be readily purchased through most craft suppliers, it is not uncommon for some people to make their own. Homemade mulberry paper is a relatively easy process, though it can take some time. The most traditional method requires careful processing of mulberry leaves and bark. Though less authentic, similar end results are often possible using recycled paper that’s been processed to resemble mulberry fiber.

When using the leaf method, the leaves must be sliced or ripped and the bark must be peeled into small, typically 1-inch (2.5 cm) strips. These are then soaked in water for about twelve hours. Afterward, soda ash alkali is added to the water and the fiber is cooked for about three to four hours. Once the fiber has cooled, the water is squeezed out and then beat into pulp on a flat surface.

This pulp is placed in a container and slowly mixed with a small amount of water. A paper-making mold can then be dipped into the pulp and excess water is soaked up until the resulting paper can be peeled from the screen. This should then be dried for about a day or so. Once dry, the paper can be pressed flat with a heavy book.

Recycled Alternatives

Making "mulberry" paper from recycled general use paper is also practiced, although this is not usually true mulberry paper, and purists typically discount it. Generally, about four times as much white paper is used as colored. Papers are torn into small pieces and soaked in water overnight. The white is then separated from the colored and placed in a blender with warm water. It is then blended to an oatmeal-like consistency and the colored pieces are slowly added until the mixture resembles confetti. The idea here is to mimic the textured, fibrous look and feel of paper made from plant leaves.

A mold is also commonly used to shape the paper with this method. Alternatively, though, old picture frames can also be used, typically in conjunction with some type of screening. A thin layer of pulp is applied with excess water allowed to drip through the screening material. The water is continually soaked up until the paper begins peeling away from the screen. It can then be dried for about 24 hours and pressed between heavy books or weights to be flattened.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By anon139797 — On Jan 05, 2011

What weight mulberry paper do I want for making katazome stencils?

By FirstViolin — On Sep 10, 2010

If I want to make paper, is mulberry paper a good type to start with?

How easy is it to make at home?

By Planch — On Sep 10, 2010

I happen to be more of a fan of vellum paper, but I certainly think that a good handmade Thai mulberry paper can give vellum a run for it's money any day.

I saw a really pretty green mulberry paper the other day, come to think of it -- it was dyed a light jade shade, and was very beautiful. It would have been perfect as a backing for a picture, or even as stationery.

By StreamFinder — On Sep 10, 2010

I think that of all the decorative paper out there, thick white mulberry paper is the best.

I used that for my wedding invitations, and was lucky enough to find a bulk mulberry paper products supplier that even had pre-made invitations.

This really is a very beautiful paper, and I would recommend it to anyone out there who needs a good, classic decorative paper.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.