Gampi paper is made from the look-alike of the banana tree: the Abaca tree. This tree is native to the Philippines and yields extremely strong fibrous material. It has been in use by local people for centuries already, for making rope and also for more delicate use as material for clothes. The long fibres obtained from the bark of the tree have a unique shine, making the pulp exceptionally suitable as raw material for paper. To make paper, other fibres are added to Abaca, including Cogon grass. Originally regarded as a useless weed, it was discovered that the strong fibres of this grass could be put to good use in the production of paper.
Abaca bark is boiled in large kettles. Impurities are removed during a number of cleaning processes, leaving a smooth, clear pulp. This pulp is then dissolved in water and spread out thinly by hand on to large screens. The screens are put out in the sun and left to dry. The dry sheets of Abaca paper are then carefully removed from the screens, ironed out (to make them even smoother) and checked for quality. The paper is then dyed or printed (using batik techniques) and used for photo album or book covers, or as decorative paper cover for boxes. All our Abaca products are handmade.
The production of Abaca paper products is mostly done by small businesses. It is an important source of income to many, small-scale entrepreneurs in the Philippines.