Monday, November 05, 2007

Baby beaters

During the past month or so, I've begun to make paper in the studio, staying up late and filling the studio shower with paper pulp. I've been grinding up cotton t-shirts and recycling paper for experiments - most now turned into cards and bookmarks - with the goal of making a quality surface for my cyanotypes.

Since I couldn't find the gorgeous Lanaquarelle paper in HK that I'd used for the Bokor series, I decided it was time to make my own.

While struggling with long cotton fibers that jammed up my blender blades and caused the overloaded contraption to smoke, I'd dream of one of these:

A Critter beater, handmade by the artist Mark Lander

This guy has singlehandedly revolutionized papermaking for independent artists. Why? Until he started building his Critters, a small-scale studio artist like me couldn't dream of grinding materials into high-quality paper. Most industrial Hollander beaters start at around US $6000-$7500 including shipping, while his models are about $2000.

Here he and the Critter are at work with papermakers in Victoria.


Marcus Schuetz said...

Looks like interesting mashinery (no German engineering, but I like it). However, I am pretty sure, that you will find something equivalent or better, when you follow the paths of Chinese small scale paper production. A good source for that would be to get to know the supplyers of the shops around Fuzhou Lu in Shanghai. I think for anything which is not a Blackberry or a Gucci handbag, the mainland is the better source. So, I would try to get the drawings and get sombody who builds one (can not believe there are any patents or copyrights).

elizabethbriel said...

You've got a good point, Marcus.

My main hesitation with getting something over the border has been that these machines are specifically built to grind up cotton & linen rags for western-style papermaking by hand, which is what I intend to do for my prints. Handmade Chinese/Asian paper is very different: thinner, stronger fibers made from different material, etc. But maybe they could use the same machines?!

You've now got this Luddite thinking about other options. After all, this machine's design is originally from the 16th century, and Roy said it's "over-engineered".

Any ideas on where to go in China or how to get the design/plans in the first place?

Marcus Schuetz said...

Can you send me the photos and any kind of decription you have and I will put this into a procurement briefing for auto part supplyers.

Should be easy to build some 16th century mashinery.


elizabethbriel said...

whoah, Marcus, you rock!

I'm trying to find plans online but so far haven't managed to find any.

Will get hold of photos soon.