Our newest heritage: Paper making in Rotterdam

Since November 2022 we have been added to the inventory list of the Intangible Heritage of the Netherlands.

Since November 2022 we have been added to the inventory list of the Intangible Heritage of the Netherlands. At the invitation of paper creator Leo Hoegen of the Papierderij in Utrecht, Ewald Weijers of Papiermakerij Doesburg and I registered together.

We are do this together, because we take this craft seriously and want to unite in the Netherlands to safeguard knowledge of this technique and make it future proof. Each of us has its papermakery, website and its own program. Together we want to work on a guild and professional knowledge transfer in the form of a paper maker training. We hope to be able to reach the right people in education or other fields to give papermaking a place outside our workshops. Below is the text as you can also read it on the website of the Knowledge Center for Intangible Heritage Netherlands (KIEN).



Paper making is making paper from pulp. This can be made of old paper, textile or parts of a plant or tree, as long as it has cellulose fibers. The fibers are torn, cut, or shredded and soaked in water until it becomes a paper pulp. The paper pulp (1 to 2% fibres, the rest water) is evenly distributed in a bigger scoop tub. The paper maker moves a mold and deckle through the tub to above the water surface. The pulp remains in the mold. When most of the water has run out, the mold is turned over and placed with a pressing movement on a damp felt cloth (couching) so that the pulp lies as a layer on the cloth. A new felt cloth is placed on this sheet in the making, on which a freshly scooped sheet can be placed.
When a pile has formed, it is pressed until all the water has been removed. The sheets are then hung on lines to dry. When they are dry, they are pressed for at least one more day and then the paper can be given a post-treatment, such as a coating (a layer of glue so that you can write on it with ink) or a colour.

Practitioners and people involved

Marieke de Hoop creates paper in Papiermakerij de Hoop in Rotterdam. In her workshop she makes all the pulp herself, which forms the raw material for making paper. In addition to old paper, de papiermakerij uses a lot of organic material. For example, the asparagus peelings of the asparagus farmer. Organic
material must be processed quickly, because it will rot immediately and therefore smell. Marieke has many years of experience with the possibilities of drying, cooling, freezing or fermenting this type of organic fibres, which also involves chemical insight.

In 2012, Marieke developed the PapierLab, which has since grown into a pulp and paper workshop where residual flows from the city, port, West Brabant and Westland are examined for the quality of paper or cardboard that one can make from them. PapierLab is also the place where inventors and designers can
experiment with paper prototypes and investigate whether they can implement it in a production chain. Marieke gives workshops and masterclasses in the PapierLab. PapierLab is open from Wednesday to Saturday for workshops and appointments.

History and development

In China, the papermaking procedure was developed at the beginning of the second century. Important raw materials were hemp, the bark of the mulberry tree, and fibers from bamboo cane. Arabs learned to make paper in Samarkand from Chinese papermakers who had settled there in the eighth century. Paper
making has been known in Europe since the end of the twelfth century. As far as is known, the first paper mill was built in 1405 in the Southern Netherlands. In Europe we only used rags for paper making.
In the nineteenth century, more and more paper was made by machine. From about 1850, paper was not only made from rags but also from vegetable raw materials, such as straw and wood. In addition to machine-made paper, handmade paper was also made. This paper, still made from rags, was used for
more official purposes. Around 1920, the last departments for handmade paper closed in the paper mills. After that, the craft fell into oblivion, until it was picked up again around 1950 by a single hobbyist. Because no paper recipes have been archived, today’s paper creators have to reinvent everything.

Safeguard actions

  1. Set up a guild together with two other professional paper creators so that there is more cooperation and paper creation can be better secured and further developed
  2. Realize an intangible heritage production for paper crafting (erfgoed spotten), in collaboration with the two guild partners, so that the craft is visible all year round. Near the entrance of our building, you can find a QR code and, digitally, and ‘get in’ 24/7
  3. Developing a ‘training’ in traditional papermaking together with the Guild partners, so that knowledge is shared. The course cannot be passed on digitally only, it must be transmitted from master to student, live.
  4. We organize workshops, basic courses and masterclasses.
  5. We investigate the possibilities of putting on paper and professional fermentation research into the process-based pre-digestion of organic fibers from residual flows.
  6. Document the paper tests that have been in the PaperLab and find ways how to do this best (physically and/or digitally)
  7. Looking for collaboration with a chemist who works in the paper world or in the circular economy
  8. Identify opportunities for collaboration, for example with foundations for paper history in the Netherlands
  9. Search for financial resources to set up and maintain professional digital communication and marketing,

These safeguard actions are a list of activities where we look for collaboration. If
you know someone who is interested, let us know!

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