My Story

Hello! I am Padma Nambisan. For most of my professional life, I have been a researcher and academician, holding a PhD in Genetics from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. My fascination with handmade paper began in 2003, while on an extended maternity leave from Cochin University, where I held a teaching position. Early attempts to make paper were with fibres extracted from coconut leaves and hibiscus stems, both of which were abundant in my backyard. Having had no exposure to paper making, and only limited resources, it took much experimentation and many failures to understand the nature of fibres from different plants and to identify what worked and what didn’t. Much of the paper made in the early days was coarse and wild, but allowed light to diffuse through them in interesting ways. And thus was born this fascination to make lanterns and lampshades from handmade paper! Unbleached pulp from different plant fibres often has interesting colours and mixing them allows “pulp paintings” to be made in the process of pulling sheets from the vat. I have often experimented by placing skeletonized leaves, twigs and other inclusions in the process of papermaking, often with unexpected results! Although Kerala does not have a tradition in hand papermaking, I did attempt to popularize the craft (unfortunately, with minimal success) through a government funded project (read more about it here). A turning point in my papermaking efforts was the visit of Dorothy Field, an artist, author and papermaker, who spent a month with me in the winter of 2009. From her vast experience I learnt about different methods of processing fibres, of beating fibres to pulp and making paper. I retired from University service in 2018 and Paper Destination was born as an offshoot of Destination Technologies Private Limited, a company founded by my husband Mohan Panampilly, currently managed by my son, Gaurav Mohan. Paper Destination aims to make unique, hand crafted paper products from fibres extracted from plants growing locally. Presented here are some of my creations, with the hope that they may bring you as much pleasure as it gave me in making them!