Khadi rag papers are made from 100% cotton rag. Cotton rags have longer fibers than linters which are the shorter fluffy fibers of the cotton seed commonly used in papermaking. Genuine rag papers are rare and it is the fiber length of this raw material that gives Khadi rag papers their exceptional strength and durability. The cotton rag we use comes from T-shirt cuttings, a reliable source of pure woven cotton.
Rags are pulped in a Hollander beater. Neutral pH size (glue) is added at this stage. Colored papers are dyed in the beater using direct dyes from Ciba and Clariant which are ISO 9001 accredited and meet European standards on effluence and toxicology.
Handmade papers are made sheet by sheet, not in a continuous roll. Pulp is poured onto the paper mold, a wooden frame with a woven wire mesh cover, which has a second frame, the deckle, on top.
The sheet is formed on the mold in a vat of water. The characteristic deckle edges of the sheet of paper come from the thinning of pulp between the deckle and mold.
The mold is lifted from the vat and the sheet is laid or couched onto a woolen felt. Another felt is placed on top and the process is repeated. When a pile of sheets interleaved with felts has been made they are pressed to remove excess water. Rough surfaced papers retain the impression of the woolen felt. Smooth papers are cold pressed between zinc sheets.
Papers are loft dried. After drying, sheets are tub sized (surface sized) with gelatin which produces a hard, water resistant surface. This is the traditional way of sizing paper for watercolor, allowing watercolor to be worked over the surface without penetrating the paper.