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Friday, July 10th: Li Ziqi

Li Ziqi

Today is Friday, July 10th

Hello everyone! Today we’re enjoying a video created by Chinese vlogger Li Ziqi demonstrating the laborious process of traditional Chinese papermaking. Li Ziqi, now with international renown and millions of subscribers, did not originally learn to cook and make her own food and furniture for her fans. Growing up with her grandparents on their rural farm, these were her tools of survival. At the age of 14 she dropped out of school to try and support herself and her family through various jobs in the city, working as a waitress, an electrician, and even a DJ for a nightclub. When her grandmother, the most important person in her life, fell ill, Li Ziqi moved back from the city to care for her full time, and began shooting videos herself of her life in the countryside. She says that some of her producing skills came from her job mixing music as a DJ. Now, with her level of popularity, she has a professional team shooting her videos. She says that she is not necessarily documenting her life as it is, but her “imaginary life in the future,” days filled with peace, beauty, good food, and her family. Li Ziqi videos are a favorite choice of after dinner viewing for our family, and we have great admiration for her skills and smarts here in the bindery.

To make a single sheet of paper Li Ziqi begins by cutting down a few thin trees and peeling the bark away with her hands and a small sharp knife. The strips of bark are strung up to air dry overnight, then thrown into a nearby body of water to soak for 10 days, tethered to dry land by a piece of rope tied to a stake. She reels the strips back in after their bath and boils them with plant ash over an open fire for 15 hours. After the boiling process, Li Ziqi scrubs the strips clean, picking out any impurities, and then mashes the strips into a pulp with a mortar and pestle, occasionally using the large knife that appears in many of her videos to chop the fibers into an even finer pulp. Finally, she lays a papermaking screen over water, and fills it with the pulp until it covers the screen in an even film. The paper is dried out by placing the screen before another open fire. The final product is sanded down for a clean finish, and the paper is removed from the screen. The video ends, after recovering the paper from a cutting mistake, with Li Ziqi writing the words “something that stays in your mind will someday spring up in your life”.

You can check out the rest of Li Ziqi's videos here.