The handmade paper originated in China in 105 AD. However, it trailed to India in the 3rd century BC. During the Mughal era, the handmade paper industry flourished, but later it started declining due to the establishment of paper mills in the 18th and 19th centuries. The handmade paper again received impetus during the time of Mahatma Gandhi.
Auroville has been a center for making handmade paper and objects from paper. Auroshilpam in Villupuram district is also an active center for making items from handmade paper. Lampshades, greeting cards, stationery and accessories are articles made in Auroshilpam. From thin to thick drawing paper, there are various grades of paper available.
Paper is made with cellulose fiber. An added appeal is lent to plain paper by mixing in a variety of things. Bagasse, bamboo, rice husk, gunny, straw, algae and tea leaves are some of the items that are mixed to give it an abstract design. Each sheet differs from another in terms of shade and design. Tiny delicate-looking flowers and leaves are pressed over the paper to give it a unique feature. These flowers and leaves are grown in-house, in gardens maintained by craft units.
Marble paper is another type of paper with which stationery items are made. It is a Japanese art of abstract painting done on the water. It is hand-torn into two inches squares of different colors and a colorful collage is made keeping the background white.
Simple cutters are used for cutting paper. In the case of lampshades, the paper is either pasted on simple welded metal frames or else wooden stripes are used with translucent handmade paper. Plywood clamps, cutters, binding equipment, lamination equipment, mechanical roller, felt sheets, metal mesh and electric grinding tubes are required for making items of handmade paper.