Papyrus paper was the type of paper used to make scrolls in places like ancient Egypt. Papyrus is a plant, or reed, that is also called paper reed or Egyptian reed. It grows along the banks of Egypt's Nile river and the Nile Delta. The plant grows up to sixteen feet tall.
Papyrus paper was expensive in ancient Egypt, so people often wrote on stones. It was only the wealthy that could afford such luxury. The Egyptians would crush minerals and stones to make ink to write on the paper.
There were other uses for the Papyrus reed, such as: making sandals, boats, baskets and mats.
It is possible to roll the paper for scrolls without it cracking. In fact, the paper prefers dryer climates, which is perfect in Egypt's climate. It you live in a wet climate, you don't want your paper to get too wet, just like regular paper, because mold can start to grow on the paper. Keeping the paper indoors is best.
(Image by Andy Polaine)
Making your own papyrus paper can be a fun activity. Here are some simples steps to take in order to create your own scrolls.
1. Collect Papyrus Reeds: The stalks can be harvested along river banks in Africa. If you don't live in African, it is possible to source these reeds online.
2. Slicing: Slice the reeds the long ways so that you have thin strips of the plant. Don't be surprised if there's liquid inside the plant. Remember that it is a water plant that has a little bit of sugar inside, similar to sugar cane.
3. Cleaning: Soak the strips in a tub of room temperature water. This will flush out the sugar and make the slices softer. The longer that you leave it in the water, the darker the paper will be. The lightest color can be a mix of white and light browns. The darkest color can be dark brown with hints of black. You won't need to leave it in the water for very long. Just until the strips are flexible.
4. Weaving: Once the strips are soft, you can lay the strips out next to each other on a flat surface. Lay them all next to each other running the same direction (vertical).
5. Weaving - Part 2: Then put on a second layer of strips over the first layer. The second layer should run in the opposite direction as the first layer (horizontal). It is possible to weave the strips together like a basket, but the finished product may be less flat.
6. Drying: Now take a rolling pin or flat item and gently pound out the excess water from the sheet. The plant starch will act as a glue and fuse the strips together during the drying process. Leave alone to dry.
7. Shaping: Once the papyrus sheet is dried. The last step is to cut the sheet into the desired shape and size for you project.
8. Have fun!