I had my first lesson in using a Reina Hollander beater last week. We started with one of the easiest fibers to work with: Abaca. Abaca comes in sheets that break up easily when sprayed with a hose and the conversion to pulp is so easy.
In the future, in terms of making pulp...
We will be making pulp in different ways: working with the original fibers, finding fibers locally (iris leaves, yucca, hosta, etc.) and taking cellulose fabric and cutting it down into tiny squares and recycling it into pulp. (I am saving bits of cotton, linen, rayon to see what works.) But now, I know how to safely use and clean a beater.
We used our abaca pulp in a deckle box. A deckle box has high walls that allow water to pool on top of the mould- allowing more hand manipulation with the pulp. Instead of pulling a sheet from dipping the mould under the water in the vat, we set the mould on top and poured the pulp into the deckle box.
Claudia showing me how to work with deckle boxes (while her dog Max keeps an eye on us).
In Claudia's studio is another tool that I learned to use: a vacuum table. Like many papermaking tools, this can be put together using many common hardware store objects. The stacks of paper and felts are put on a plexiglass tabletop, a tube with holes for draining the water is placed along the stacks. (Here, our paper is pressed in between burlap instead of felts so that the texture of the burlap presses into the paper.) A sheet of plasitc is placed over the table and the suction presses the water out of the paper. It is surprisingly strong. The water collects in a tank and must be drained. The vacuum table is an alternative to a press.