Khadi rag papers are made from 100% cotton rag. Cotton rags have longer fibres than linters which are the shorter fluffy fibres of the cotton seed commonly used in papermaking. Genuine rag papers are rare and it is the fibre 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. Coloured 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 mould, a wooden frame with a woven wire mesh cover, which has a second frame, the deckle, on top.
The sheet is formed on the mould in a vat of water. The characteristic deckle edges of the sheet of paper come from the thinning of pulp between the deckle and mould.
The mould is lifted from the vat and the sheet is laid or couched onto a woollen 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 woollen felt. Smooth papers are cold pressed between zinc sheets.
Papers are loft dried. After drying, sheets are tub sized (surface sized) with gelatine which produces a hard, water resistant surface. This is the traditional way of sizing paper for watercolour, allowing watercolour to be worked over the surface without penetrating the paper.