Within papermaking there is a lot of equipment – you got your vats, your molds, deckles, buckets, hoses, presses, dryer boxes, blotters, etc, etc, etc. But above all the beater is king. Without someway to break down the fiber you got nothing.
After all most of the items are pretty common place. Take some water, a blender two old picture frames and some old window screen and you can pretty much make paper. Problem is that it will be kind of lump and bumpy, not hold up real well, be hard to write or draw on, and generally not perform for anything than being able to view it as a piece of paper that you made. Begging question – if it doesn’t function the way we ask paper to function than is it really even paper? Regards of its paperness we must look at the reason why.
The reason paper turn out so poorly when made using a is because the paper that comes from a blender is chopped while the paper that comes from a beater is macerated. The action of macerating elongates the fibers allowing them to flow together creating a strong woven hydrogen bond while also being able to compress down into a flat even sheet, and the way to do this is with a beater.
Since around 1673CE (Library of Congress) western papermaking has been reliant on the design of one tool for its papermaking – The Hollander Beater. This oval trough with a cogged wheel and a bed plates does a fantastic job on macerating fibers of all kinds. The issue with it is accessibility. The market for these machines is pretty limited and they are built to last so new Hollander Beaters are made to order and run you somewhere in the ballpark of $10,000. That right there is a pretty heafty sum of money to come up with on the front of starting a new papermaking studio, and to my mind is the main prevention of papermaking expanding within the arts.
I became interested because it would seem to me that in the age of the Do-it-Yourself movement, wiki-how and youtube fix it videos, we could come up with a solution to this problem. I got to wondering if papermaking has been around since 105 CE (Asunción 9) but the Hollander Beater didn’t come on the scene until around 1673CE how was the paper being beaten for for other 1500 year? Maybe this could be a clue into how to make a beater that is more affordable and still produces the same product. Here you will find a survey of different paper beating machines and methods.
Hand Beating – In the beginning there was hand beating. The Chinese made paper from rags, finishing nets, mulberry tree bark, nettles, and hemp that were softened with lime and fermented before crushing and grinding them by hand to a pulp using a hand mortar. (Asunción 14)
Though a very early and possibly considered rough, primitive method some of the most beautiful papers are still made today using a similar process. For many fibers like Kozo or Gampii a cooking in caustic solution followed by a hand beating with mallets or wooden paddles is used. From afar someone seeing the rhythmic beating of wet pulp with a piece of wood may even seem slightly barbaric. However, after the suspending in water and pulling a sheet it creates some of the must beautiful and delicate paper often with slight wispy hairs suspended within.
Japanese Stamper – Not surprisingly following hand paper beating came a tool that would beat paper in a similar way but without the laborious work. Though in Japanese papermaking the beating is really secondary to the preparation of the fiber in the cooking and washing stages. “Fiber selection, cooking and washing are the most crucial preparatory steps in Japanese papermaking” “Minor variations in cooking and washing can produce very different papers even from the same fiber” (Barrett 35) While there are many variations based on area, mill and the papermaker the general process is “boiling the fiber in a strong alkali solution to dissolve most of the lignin, pectin, waxes, and gums, leaving primarily cellulose fiber and hemicelluloses.” (Barrett 36) After that the fiber is put into clean water and meticulously inspected – picking out and removing small bits of left over bark or imperfections until the fiber is a consistent tone. Following the cleaning the fiber is ready to be beaten. “The fiber is twisted into thread and woven into tight patches of cloth” “millions of long straight fibers, all laying closely together” “The fibers stand loosely together in the bark…ready to come apart” (Barrett 44) after this the fiber is beaten for only around 30 minutes. The beater itself was invented in “1920’s to substitute for hand beating” (Barrett 46) The stamper beater consists of a metal shaft with a hardwood striker mounted to the bottom, that can travel freely vertically as well as rotates. It is bolted into a sturdy wooden frame and powered by an electric motor that when running raises and lowers the striking part of the machine into a small basin at the bottom where the fiber is kept. For final processing a Naginata beater is often used (Barrett 46)
Naginata Beater – The Naginata beater came on the scene after the invention of the stamping beater. In the use of the stamper the purpose is not to chop, cut or macerate the fiber. The goal is rather to separate the fibers from each other. After stamping the fiber is put into the Naginata to “tease” the fibers apart. The Naginata looks very much like a western Hollander beater, an ovular trough with a mechanical apparatus that the fiber and water passes through. Unlike the the Hollander the roll and the bedplate have been removed. In there place is a series of curved dull knife like thanes attached to a rotating horizontal shaft and powered by an electric motor. These curved “blades” are what gives the Naginata its name, originally coming from the the name for the curved halberd used in battle. While the Naginata is running for about 20 minutes or so depending on the fiber the dull blades chop at the water and fiber freeing the strands of fiber from each other and separated them from each other – suspended in the water and ready for sheet forming (Barrett)
Western Stamper – Before the invention of the Hollander beater in the western world the use of the western style paper stamper was the main tool of the papermaking industry. The stamper normally consisted of 3 or more hammer like heads that would land their blow inside of a rounded bottom stone trough. Often metal was used at the bottom of the trough to increase longevity. The head of the hammer that came in contact with the bottom of the trough would be outfitted with a gridding of nails or sometimes a custom cast plate or head – similar in appearance to the bed plate of a Hollander beater. The arm of the hammer attached to a pivot point that would allow the hammer to raise and fall. The force causing the raising and falling of the hammer was powered by a rotating shaft outfitted with pegs interspersed so that the hammers would raise and fall in separate timing from each other. This shaft would often be powered by water and a mill running alongside of the building the beater was housed in. Prior to beating rags, where were the primary source of paper, was cooked or most often retted (rotted). The fiber was then poured into the trough and processed –typically taking around 3-5 days. “The behavior of the pulp under the hammers perfectly fits the various descriptions made in the 18th century. When a hammer is raised, it creates a depression which draws in the pulp expelled by the drop of the neighboring hammer.” (Moulin à papier)
601 Production LTD, Traditional Paper Making Process, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lltkdyE1OG0, May 25, 2012
Asunción, Josep. The Complete Book of Papermaking. Lark Books, 2003
Avi Michael, Chancery Papermaking, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-PmfdV_cZU, May 28, 2003
Barrett, T., “European Papermaking Techniques 1300–1800.” Paper through Time: Nondestructive Analysis of 14th- through 19th-Century Papers. The University of Iowa. Last modified July 14, 2014. http://paper.lib.uiowa.edu /european.php.
Barrett, Timothy. Japanese Papermaking. John Weatherhill Inc., 1983
Library of Congress. Papermaking Art and Craft. Vinmar Lithography Company, 1968
Moulin à papier. http://www.moulinduverger.com/papier-main/article-42.php. 2006
sararingler, Kozo Beating, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgXZLkwJqZ0, July 16, 2009
stampochpress, Handmade papermaking and handcasting type, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MTb7Nt9jNY, November 7, 2007
A printing press is a machine for applying pressure to an inked surface that rests upon a surface to be printed on (such as paper or cloth), transferring the ink. Typically used for texts, the invention and spread of the printing press was one of the most influential events in the second millennium revolutionizing the way people understand and explain the world they live in, and ushering in the modern era.
The printing press was invented in the Holy Roman Empire Johannes Gutenberg of Germany around 1440. Gutenberg, a goldsmith by profession, developed a complete printing system, which perfected the printing process through all of its stages by adapting existing technologies to the printing purposes, as well as making groundbreaking inventions of his own. His newly devised hand mould made for the first time possible the precise and rapid creation of metal movable type in large quantities, a key element in the lucrativeness of the whole printing enterprise. Upon further investigation, I found that a “hand mould” or “matrix” was used in hot metal typesetting, a matrix is a mold for casting a letter, known as a sort, used in letterpress printing. However, in printmaking the matrix is whatever is used, with ink, to hold the image that makes up the print, whether a plate in etching and engraving or a woodblock in woodcut.
In the Fall of 1909, Robert Vandercook founded Vandercook & Sons in Chicago, Illinois. His first press was made with a geared cylinder. Before the development of his press, all proofs were made on a roller press, a hand-operated crank press that relied on gravity to make an impression, or on a Washington Hand Press, which was pre-ink-rolling—you had to hand ink each print, and could only do 4 prints at a time, on the large press bed. The press in the Petko studio that we visited looks to be a Washington Hand Press. Here’s a video demo: https://vimeo.com/67678996
Over the next half-century, Vandercook introduced 60 different press models—29 before World War II, 17 of which were still being manufactured for years after the war. Manufacturing was halted during the war, as Vandercook was greatly involved in making things for the war effort, for which they received the E Award. The President's “E” Award was created by Executive Order of the President to afford suitable recognition to persons, firms, or organizations which contribute significantly in the effort to increase United States exports.
With a couple exceptions that were gravity presses, all of Vandercook’s presses were geared cylinders. The SP’s or Simple Precision presses and the Universal series were the last designed. The SP15 was the most popular of all of the Vandercook presses. Take a look at this demo: https://youtu.be/jxwRlQib1EQ
Although the company has changed hands a couple of times, it still operates under the name NA Graphics out of Silber City Colorado—making parts and supplies for many Vandercook models. Without the efforts of Mr. Vandercook and his sons, we may still be using gravity to create prints.
By: Maryanna Hatfield
Technology is expanding faster and faster before our very eyes. Not a single day goes by without the introduction of a new piece of technology, aiming to help improve people’s lives—including artists’ lives. Often times these new technologies actually do help people out. For example, in the animation industry, it helped create an all new form of animation: 3D animation. Animating became easier and artists can now achieve amazingly realistic effects. At the same time, technology made it harder for other animators, specifically 2D animators. Due to the power of 3D animation, 2D animation is becoming increasingly nonexistent. Many artists are even having trouble finding work.
But what does this mean for books and bookmaking artists? Is technology helping to improve bookmaking practices or does it end up destroying older, well-loved processes? Before considering this, it is important to first understand what technologies are available for artists in this field.
One new piece of bookmaking technology is bookmaking software, such as Bookwright. Bookwright is a free, “powerful, multi-featured design and layout application for creating photobooks, trade books, magazines and ebooks” (Blurb.com). This program is useful in many ways. Instead of setting type by hand (which is often very tedious, difficult and slow), you can just type onto your computer and adjust the text however you want. If you want to change the type of your book and make it into a magazine or an eBook, you are free to do so. In addition, the program formats your book for you so you have a perfectly formatted book every time. Also, you can print copies of your book at affordable prices with a range of options to choose from, like the quality of the paper. Finally, if you wanted to add something like custom end sheets or foil stamping, that option is available to you as well.
The next piece of technology that’s available for bookmakers is Adobe products like Illustrator and Photoshop. These programs aren’t specifically for bookmakers, but they can definitely be used to help make books. In these programs there is a wide range of tools to create new images on the computer. You can adjust these images by changing the lighting, size and color. You could also adjust the rulers to perfectly align your images and margins. When the images are done, simply print the images on a printer.
The last technology is Aquafadas. Aquafadas is an app where you can upload your already created book and publish it in digital formats including eBooks and PDFs. You only have to “pay when you publish” (Aquafadas.com). You may also add “interactive enrichments” including “video and slideshow capabilities, 360˚ viewing, locations services, games and many more” (Aquafadas.com).
While technology is advancing, book artists should have no fear as it doesn’t appear that these technologies are destroying old bookmaking ways. These technologies, while useful, are still all pretty limited as to what they can do. For example, Bookwright has very limited options in paper type and what kind of embellishments and decorations you can add to your piece. If you wanted to add images or text that is sewn or use kitikata paper, you’re out of luck.
With that being said, if one really wanted to make a handmade book, they would need to make their own books using older tools like bone folders and thread. The only thing that has really changed with the introduction of these new technologies is that there is more of an emphasis on making books digital (but not so much that actual handmade books are becoming obsolete). In fact, with programs like Aquafadas and Bookwright, it is actually becoming easier (and more affordable!) to spread your art and make it more accessible to readers.
Adobe. Adobe, n.d. Web. 2 November, 2015.
Aquafadas. RakutenGroup, n.d. Web. 2 November, 2015.
BookWright. Blurb, n.d. Web. 2 November, 2015
The Rise and Fall of American Type Foundries
Author: Brandon Montgomery
In a little more than 200 years, type foundries spread across America, helped the letterpress industry flourish, ushered in new printing technology and now recessed almost into nonexistence.
Records show that the first American Type Foundries came about in the late 1760’s and early 1770’s. Though accounts are conflicting, David Mitchelson and Abel Buell are generally regarded as the first to cast type in the Colonies. This was fifty years after the first American newspaper (John Campbell, Boston News-Letter 1704) and over a hundred years from the first printing plant (Stephen Day, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1638).
In the early days of printing, the average printer would have 3-8 fonts of type and if he needed replacements, might have to wait over a year to receive an order from England or Scotland. Eventually, the revolutionary war made replacing type nearly impossible. When type became illegible, the inability to replace type would multiply the amount of work required to compose an entire book. Without an ample number of each character, printers would be forced to set fewer pages at a time, print them, and then redistribute the type in order to continue setting pages. “I made use of such letters as we had for punches, founded new letters of lead in matrices of clay”, described Benjamin Franklin in his 1793 autobiography, detailing how he cast new letters as required by the Philadelphia printing plant he worked at. It was this necessity for more type that helped the early growth of American foundries.
By the late 1820’s, dozens of type foundries popped up across America and new type casting was available to the masses. This increased accessibility led to experimentation and competition in the industry, which in turn spurred improvements in casting methods and lowered the cost of type casting overall. However, this expansion would be short lived.
By the late 19th century, many small plants had begun to go bankrupt and the future looked bleak for all type founders. Not only had the popularity and increased number of type-casting plants driven sale prices below production costs, with the invention of the Linotype and Monotype, newspaper plants required less type casting support. It was around this time that over 20 different type foundries decided to combine resources in order to protect their industry. The American Type Founders Company was born (ATFC inc.1892). However, the Linotype and Monotype machines were revolutionary. They were able to cast entire sentences and lines at a time and in a much faster fashion. This was obviously ideal for news stations and book makers alike. Moreover, the ATF was hit hard by the depression. Finally, the rise of offset printing post WWII, further pushed ATF to the periphery of relevancy. The American Type Founders Company was disbanded in the 1970’s.
Today, only 4 commercial letterpress type foundries are still in operation around the world! The two remaining in the US are; M&H Type Foundry located in San Francisco, CA and Skyline Type Foundry, based in Prescott, AZ.
M&H Type is the largest and oldest type foundry dating back to 1915. Celebrating a century of continuous operation, the historic M&H still offers traditional lead typecasting for hand composition as well as digital typography to keep up with current printing technology.
Skyline Type Foundry uses four Thompson Type Casters for the bulk of their casting. These machines were patented in 1907 and use propane to perform the matrix precision mold injections. The metal itself is a mixture of lead, tin and antimony, and only takes about an hour to reach its melting point of 650˚F. Once the metal is molten, the machine casts one character at a time. A standard matrix font consists of 72 characters, with multiples of each, so this process takes a while. It was this aspect of the machine, and similar machines from the era, that led to its widespread decline.
Despite the undeniable edge digital typography has on the market, Skyline and M&H Foundries are keeping traditional type methods alive and making efforts to preserve the operation and production for current practice and historical import. The owner of Skyline Type Foundry, Schuyler (Sky) Shipley says, “It is very rewarding to preserve and perpetuate this ancient craft, and to put shiny new type into the hands of letterpress printers worldwide.”
Pictured below is the Thompson Type Caster. In the top left photo you can see individual type blocks lining up to the left of the machine after they are cast. Another photo shows the molten pot of lead alloy that gets injected into the matrices. The last image highlights J and L matrices on the workbench at Skyline. In the video you can see the Thompson Type Caster ejecting individual blocks of type.
Annenberg, Maurice. Type Foundries of America and Their Catalogue. New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1994.
M&H Type http://www.arionpress.com/mandh/index.htm
Skyline Type http://skylinetype.com/
By Isabel Cervantes
I’m sure we all think of Egypt and papyrus when we think about the origins of paper, however, paper as it exists today traces back to China. Credit for the invention of paper was given to T’sai Lun, an official tied to the Imperial court during the Han Dynasty.
After beginning in China, the process spread across Asia, the Middle East, and then Europe. In each of those places the process was generally the same. It was the Arabian technique that the Italians improved upon by the use of water for power, a stamping mill, wire mesh molds and various other things.
At first, the process used old rags and plant based materials to produce paper. However, advances in the printing process created a larger demand for paper and thus a shortage of those raw materials. Then, with the invention of a wood grinding machine, came the use of wood based paper and the further mechanization of the whole process. In the traditional process, these materials were heated in a solution, beaten down into a pulp and then bleached to take color away or had color added. A mold with a wire screen, called a “deckle,” was dipped into the solution and pulled out horizontally in order to create a sheet of pulp on the screen. This sheet was then placed on felt or cloth and stacked with others to be pressed. After pressing, the sheets were hung to dry. The dry sheets were then adjusted to have preferred properties such as improved strength or reduced water absorbency.
As mentioned before, because of the growing demand for paper and the time it took to complete the traditional process, a faster more mechanized way was created. However, even in this modern day process you can see remaining traditional aspects. In this process quality is often measured by what percentage of the paper is not made of wood pulp which is the cheap alternative used in mass production,
Below are videos of the traditional process as it is carried out in some places in South Korea and also a video example of how paper is mass produced for purposes other than art.
As you can see, whether its the traditional way or the modern day way, the paper making process is not something that can be done in only one way. It is constantly being improved upon and has many levels of difficulty. You can even make your own paper at home from various recycled materials! In the end, the time consuming traditional ways of paper making across the world are worthy of appreciation.