Tallinn is an amazing cultural city: it combines the charm of medieval architecture and the modernity of a city that is just reborn. Any time I walk down the streets of Old Town, I’m extremely fascinated by this strong culture you can feel through the stone buildings and roads.
I was really lucky to meet Lara, a young girl from Slovenia, that is currently attending an internship here and introduced me to the most important handmade paper production here in Estonia: Labora.
| What is Labora?
Labora, previously called Tallinna Paber, was established in 2011, and it’s the only foundation keeping the tradition of handmade paper alive in Estonia.
It also offers lots of related services; in fact, their workshops include letterpress printing, calligraphy and papermaking, giving people the opportunity to try the feeling of creating with their own hands!
The independence of their products permits the application of any design to the postcards they produce, allowing the customer to personalize them with one of their favourite designs as well!
They gave me the huge opportunity to visit their laboratory, and I discovered the beauty behind arts and crafts that are not common anymore nowadays.
| True handmade (and seed) paper!
Behind the production of every piece this activity creates, there’s true handwork and a strong connection with ancientness.
Each step follows the rules of the traditional western process for the creation of paper. That’s right, the final product is created from the very beginning, and that’s what makes it so unique and special.
Lara and Giulia guided me in the exploration of their small and complex (and very cute, I’m a fan!!) laboratory, and explained each step of the production of this extraordinary paper.
Their description of the process made it seem all simple and fast, but I’m sure it all requires care, practice and vast knowledge.
They take care of their product starting from raw materials such as cotton, hemp, linen, and abaca. They treat paper (to recycle it), cutting it into pieces and mixing it with organic materials and water, transforming it all into pulp. It will then be set to drain, to create a wet sheet that will become paper after all the water has evaporated!
Then they tint it (or leave it natural, depending on the use) and take care of the thickness necessary for the weight. Every sheet of paper requires a different weight determined by the usage: watercolour and ink paper, for example, is way thicker than the regular paper in notebooks or the one used in office printers.
The drying procedure is accurately executed as in the past as well, collecting all the sheets of paper in big plates, hung vertically in the middle of a ventilated specific room.
When everything is ready, they also take care of inking, packaging, and selling.
From the first to the last step, the product is treated with attention and care. How cool is it to think no automatic machines are involved in any stage?
This place is basically where tradition and craftsmanship are still preserved with pride and connected with the modernity of our times, thanks to the young minds that are working there with passion and attention.
Wanna be always updated?
Don’t lose our new posts, activities, exercises and some behind-the-scenes. Joining our newsletter is easy and free.
| Seed paper?
What does “seed paper” even mean? Well, it’s the name of a damn good idea!
This is where innovation meets tradition, with a great consideration of our planet (that’s needed, I’d say).
An adorable and really important characteristic of this type of paper is that, once you’re just done with that, you can simply water it and smol cute plants are gonna grow from it!
How does it work?
During the process, in some sheets of paper, they add a bit of literal seeds of different plants such as forget-me-not and daisies! This paper can be used, inked, and remain on your shelf for a while, but the seeds will not lose their properties anyway.
They are perfect presents that show love to the people you give ‘em to, but also our environment.
| Not just paper
As I said before, they offer different creative workshops for both adults and children, individuals and groups, locals and tourists! You can try different activities from papermaking to calligraphy, in order to try and create something with your own hands from zero!
You have the opportunity to attend professional calligraphy classes thanks to Labora. Here is where the Tallinn School of Calligraphy was born and still keeps the art of handwriting alive.
Labora is not as small as it seems! Their small laboratory can create enough products to be sold in Estonia and not only.
You can find their handmade products at Labora Shop located in Tallinn’s Old Town, through their shop online and in a variety of shops around Estonia and abroad. In their website you’ll be able to find all the shops in which their products are sold.
| Wood toys collection
The girls were very kind and they also accompanied me to visit the tower in which the owner’s wood toys collection is stored.
This tower is called Grusbeke-Tagune Torn and it’s located really near to the laboratory. Built at the beginning of the 15th century, it’s part of the Walls of Tallinn, the medieval defensive walls constructed around the city of Tallinn in Estonia.
Inside of this tower, there was an ammunition storeroom, and it was generally used for the storage of artillery and small firearms.
Now it’s used to store all the toys collected by the owner of Labora’s laboratory; it’s often visited by schools and tourists, as well as locals. The lower floor is now an intimate space for praying and work. This amazing collection keeps growing also thanks to the supportive community who bring to him items from all over the world.
The view is breathtaking, it’s worthy all that very steep rock stairs.
Thanks for reading! Hope you’re going to visit Labora shops sooner or later (no excuses, they also have an online shop 😉 ) and support their effort in preserving handmade culture as well!
Since you’ve read the article and made it this far, there’s a bonus for you:
Latest posts from Sciupp.com