Plugged in and turned on. All paper. All the time.
One way that fibers are made more flexible before papermaking is a refining process called beating. Pounding and/or shearing action works to separate the fibers for the first time, or further refines fibers that have already been separated by fermentation or cooking in alkaline solutions. The process can increase the strength of the product through flattening of the cellulosic fibers which will increase the area for fiber bonding. Beating is an almost universal part of papermaking traditions. Hollander beaters are machines used for beating. Hollanders were initially wind-powered machines developed between 1660 and 1673. They machines have a large tub that is oval in shape and is made of various materials including cast iron, stainless steel, concrete, fiberglass, or wood. The tub might also be lined with tiles, copper, or another rust free material.
The fibers added to the beater will circle in the tub around a division called the midfeather. On one side of the tub is the beater roll, a rotating cylinder mounted on a shaft with dull blades or bars attached at an angle. When the fibers pass under the blades on their path of circulation, they rub between the blades of the beater roll and another stationary set of blades on the base of the tub called the bedplate. This is where refining takes place. The gap between the blades and the bedplate is adjusted to control the amount of shearing.
In an industrial setting, beaters use a lot of energy and space and are seen as inefficient compared to other machines designed to process pulp. For the small batch papermaker, the artist, for specialty paper makers and for laboratory applications, the small beater is still relevant. Several variations of the Hollander design exist. You can purchase an old one and refurbish it or purchase a newly made one from one of these producers:
Designed by Mark Lander
David Reina Designs Inc.
79 Guernsey St. Brooklyn NY, 11222
Oracle Beater and Hydra Hollander
Designed by Lee Scott McDonald
used paper mill equipment
CAN-AM Machinery, Inc.
used paper mill equipment
44 Old Princeton Road Fitchburg, MA, 01420
Another useful resource is Catherine Nash’s downloadable PDF:
Beater Finesse: 32 Beater Notes from 25 International Artists – A Comparative Study A 50 page e-booklet including 50 color images with a chart (printable on a large format printer). Beater Finesse “is a compilation intended to guide and inspire us in our experimentations within our own studios, rather than to be used as a recipe book. As all Hollander beaters are different, getting to know your own machine and its capabilities is the foundation from which your new work will spring.”