Oh, look at me now; I’m makin’ paper

I had heard about the Paper Museum. It had even been recommended to me as someplace to take G, but I thought, “A paper museum? How exciting can that really be?” It wasn’t until one of the moms at G’s music class recommended it as someplace her two sons loved to go that I decided to head there with G. And am I glad that I did because G loves it!

The first thing she loved was the water wheel outside the mill. The first time we went, she had me do an entire photo shoot; however, very few of the pictures turned out in focus. (Hashtag amateur photographer problems.) So when we went back with Andy the next month, she was super psyched to show him the water wheel.

Once you get inside, the museum has four floors and each floor discusses part of the paper making process and has an activity for you to do (which makes it great for kids).

The first thing you get to do is make paper. This is potentially messy and I recommend having on short sleeves for this part. The first time we went, I had on a hoodie and pulled my sleeves up, but still ended up with paper pulp all over the place.

Getting ready to make paper. This pose kills me. #lavieve #latergram #diva #canonrebelsl1

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This is the face of a girl who is REALLY excited to make some paper! #lavieve #latergram #makingpaper #canonrebelsl1

A photo posted by lizneilvoss (@lizneilvoss) on

Mixing the paper pulp into the water.


After thoroughly mixing the paper pulp into the water, you submerge the frame into the tub and slowly bring it back to the top. This (should) deposit enough pulp on the fine mesh to turn into a sheet of paper.

Teamwork. #lavieve #latergram #basel #switzerland #playingtourist #makingpaper #canonrebelsl1

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Draining off the water.

Once the excess water is drained off, you flip the paper onto a piece of felt.


Once several pieces have been made, the layers of paper and felt are put into a large press to squeeze out more water.


Then the sheets are separated out from the felt and put into these dryers. It only takes less than a minute to dry the paper this way.


This is, I imagine, a huge improvement over the traditional drying method, which takes a week.


Elsewhere on the main floor, you get to learn about other parts of the traditional paper-making process, like ripping up rotting rags to (I assume) make the pulp. This is something that would NEVER fly in the US, as that is actually a large blade covered by a removable piece of wood. I obviously didn’t allow G to actually play with it!


You can also find this tunnel which is mostly noteworthy because they don’t know what it was used for! I tried to get a picture of G sitting on the ledge in front of it, but she said it was too scary.


And if you’re Andy, you can marvel over how short people used to be and feel like a giant.

On the next floor, you can learn about the development of the written language. There are a lot of interactive displays. With an older child, this is probably an excellent learning opportunity. G mostly saw them as things to play with.


Each of these wheels shows how a specific picture has developed into a letter.


And this tree shows the relationship of various written languages. Very cool.


You can also try your hand at calligraphy. There is a guide to help you try to write correctly, but I didn’t put G through that. (We’ll focus on her developing penmanship first.) After you finish writing your message, there is a volunteer on hand to seal your paper up with melting wax and a stamp of your choice!

Moving up another level, you can learn about the development of the printing press.



There are several working printing presses on display, as well as bins and bins of letters. The thought of setting all of those little backwards letters to print pages is kind of mind-boggling.


You can also use a small printing press to print a picture onto a piece of paper as well as emboss a sun into the paper. G thought it was very cool.

On the top floor, you can learn about book binding.


As with other parts of the museum, you can see some of the old equipment on display.

They do bind new books at the museum as well. The first time G and I went, there was a man binding books to be sold at a release party later that month. Very cool.

The top floor activity is probably my favorite: marbling paper.

Marbling some paper. #lavieve #latergram #basel #switzerland #abeautifulmess

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Some beautiful results.

You can choose your own color scheme and swirl the colors into your desired design.


When you’re ready, you press a sheet of paper onto the ink and smooth it out. You want the entire sheet of paper to come in contact with the design you made.

Then you take the paper off, use a squeegee to remove the excess liquid, and one of the museum staff rinses the paper and uses a dryer to dry the paper (just like on the first floor).


My paper + G’s in the background.

Some of the results of this activity are absolutely gorgeous. We’ve even framed one of G’s sheets and will be hanging it in her room after we rearrange to accommodate her new bed.

Admission to the museum seems a little pricey for adults, but G’s admission is free. We also plan on getting an annual museum pass this year and admission to the Paper Museum will be included! Considering how many hands-on activities you get to do, and that you get to bring home paper you made, pressed, and marbled yourself, the cost seems much more reasonable.


4 thoughts on “Oh, look at me now; I’m makin’ paper

    • If I had been more on top of things, I think G’s grandparents would’ve gotten marbled paper as gifts this past Christmas, but there’s always next year 🙂

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