Saa Paper Wraps Up the World
The Production, marketing and export of high quality Saa Paper is a serious business for the people at Siamphomprathan Company because it represents the livelihood for the company's 230 employees. From small beginnings in 1992, when the company was established by Mr. Krisna Jiwipanpong, the business has grown to the point where it now exports 80% of its products to countries like France, Italy, Germany, U.S.A. and Japan.
The manufacture of saa paper follows a simple series of processes but the processes must be followed with care, are time consuming and, sometimes, can be upset by the vagaries of weather. Saa paper is made from bark which has been stripped from the young branches of the mulberry paper tree. Botanical named Broussnetia Papyrifera, the mulberry paper tree is readily grown in most soils especially those which have good, natural irrigation from a lake, river or pond. The Siamphomprathan Company buys as much raw bark as it can from within Thailand but, such is product demand, it also has to import the raw bark from neighboring Laos.
The bark is initially and thoroughly sun dried, to remove natural sap, before being baled for delivery to the saa paper factory. Then it is soaked in water, overnight or longer, until the bark is soft and pliable. The next step is to boil the "mush" for several hours this is done in huge drums in a mixture of water and caustic soda. The soda causes the fibres to breakdown even further and also bleaches them to an off-white color this is the natural color of saa paper.
After the boiling is complete, the mixture is well rinsed in cold water to remove the soda solution and the remaining pulp is then placed ina "beating" machine, filled with cold water, which will separate the fine fibres from which the paper is made. The penultimate stage of manufacture is immersing a fine mesh screen (sieve) in the fibre filled water; the wooden framed screens are of uniform size and the fibres will cling to the mesh. The saa paper is now ready and the screen will be taken outside for the final process of sun drying. The sight of thousands of wooden framed screens drying in the sun can easily identify a saa paper factory.
Customer requirements such as color are attended to by adding natural, vegetable dyes during the manufacturing process and also designs can be printed directly onto the finished saa paper. Aside from being a natural medium on which to paint or draw, saa paper is excellent for gift wrapping of all kinds. Also, the products made from saa paper are many and varied greetings cards, bags, notebooks, photo albums, boxes, bags and so on. It is even used, specially treated, on large sun umbrellas and parasols.
So saa papermaking is a serious business for the Siamphomprathan Company and, if you call by their showroom or factory, you will see just how serious it is. Whether it is their handmade saa paper products, or the commercial machine-made variety, the Siamphomprathan Company has it all in a kaleidoscope of colors, patterns and sizes.
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