How papyrus is made

The Cyberus papyrus plant grows in the Nile's fresh water. It has long roots and stems and the ancient Egyptians used it in building ships and making papyrus paper.

The plant

The outer bark of the papyrus plant is removed and the inner pith sliced into thin strips, which are subsequently hammered to break the fibers and drain the water. They are then re-immersed into ordinary water for 3 days until the fibres become flexible and transparent.

The papyrus strips are then cut to the required length and placed on a piece of cotton, each at a slight overlap making two layers, one horizontal and the other vertical.

The papyrus sheets are put between two pieces of cardboard and placed under a hand press until dry. The cardboard is changed every 8 hours and the drying process takes about 3 days.

Finally, the papyrus sheets are ready for painting and are given to qualified artists. The mediums used are inks, oils and gouache, although it is also possible to write, typewrite and draw on papyrus.