Drew Matott is passionate about the portable studio model, which has been the cornerstone of his work since 2009. It is not just about convenience; this system has become our passport to connecting with international communities. The benefits of hand papermaking are most clearly experienced first-hand, so it makes our work all the more accessible to have the equipment that we use handy and easy to transport.
This page is dedicated to the resources, materials and approximate costs for developing a portable paper studio.
Feel free to send an email if you have any questions regarding information on materials or scheduling a visitation by Drew Matott.
Whether you are a novice or a long-time papermaker, the two most essential books on hand papermaking are Papermaking: History and Technique by Dard Hunter, and
The Papermaker's Companion by Helen Hiebert. Dard Hunter's book offers an in depth history, while Helen Hiebert breaks down the components of papermaking into thorough and accessible descriptions.
Breaking rag is one of the first steps of making paper. Scissors are a crucial tool, used for removing non-cellulose materials and snipping the remaining material into small postage stamp size pieces. A good pair of scissors is worth its weight in gold, although they eventually become dull and need replacement. Having several pairs on hand is essential for workshops and a good way to share the process with friends and family.
Cutting rag with scissors is a good start, however the key tool for breaking rag is the Hollander beater. This machine pulverizes the rag into pulp.
The Hollander beater was invented in the late 17th century and quickly replaced the large water powered wooden hammers called stampers. The Hollander beater has evolved over the last three hundred years, shifting from a massive stationary machine to today's smaller cast iron and stainless steel studio models.
This machine easily folds up and fits into a suitcase and can be transported in the trunk of a car, checked at the airport or shipped in the mail.
This noteworthy innovation allows for the contemporary papermaker to bring the studio anywhere, whether a private retreat, public street festival or community center.
The papermaker is no longer limited to bringing people to his or her studio, rather the papermaker is able to bring the studio to the people.
Once the material is pulped, the next step is to form the paper. The essential tools for this process are buckets and vats, a mould & deckle, a couple of press boards and synthetic interfacing (or pellon).
The buckets, vats and press boards are easily found at your local hardware store.
Interfacing (synthetic felting or pellon) is used to separate the freshly formed sheets of paper in a stack, and can be purchased at a fabric store or Carriage House Paper.
The mould & deckle is used to capture the pulp by passing it through the slurry-filled vat. You can make your own mould & deckle or it can be purchased.
The wood for this tool is generally made out of hardwood, and is soaked and dried to test for warping before construction. Some student moulds are constructed out of laminated plywood, but these are not as durable and best avoided.
The screening that is used has a broad range. Traditionally, reed, bamboo and brass laid screen would be sewn together making a laid mould.
Today, woven moulds are more common; brass and heat stretch polypropylene can be acquired fairly easily.
After the pulp is formed into sheets of paper, the stack is pressed and hung to dry.
The easiest method of drying paper is hanging the wet sheets (while still on the interfacing) from a sturdy clothes line, in an enclosed area. A fan can be used on the lowest setting to help with air circulation.
What makes the portable paper studio so appealing is its ability to fit into a few small boxes or cases. This allows for all of the essential tools to be set up or stored anywhere.
Video of the portable paper studio in action during our Artist Residency at A Reason To Survive, National City, CA in 2015.
Materials, resources and approximate cost for portable paper studio:
Scissors- available at a fabric store: ~$15 a pair
Hose- available at a hardware store: ~$15
5 gallon buckets- available at a hardware store: ~$5 per bucket
5 gallon paint strainers- available at a hardware store: ~$1 each
Small cement mixing vat- available at a hardware store: ~$15 each
Press boards (lightweight luan plywood)- available at a hardware store: ~$15
Linseed oil (sealant for boards)- available at a hardware store: ~$15
Synthetic felt or pellon- available through Carriage House Paper, or fabric store: ~$3 to $6 a yard.
Clothes line and pins- available from grocery or hardware store: ~$10 for the set Papermaking: History and Technique by Dard Hunter: ~ $15 The Papermaker's Companion by Helen Hiebert: ~$20
Portable Hollander Beater- Contact Lee McDonald for current price
Hardwood workshop & production moulds- available through Drew Matott: ~$125 per 9"x12" set, or $200 for 11"x14" set.