A Partial Papermaking Glossary
Beater: Also known as Hollander
beater, a seventeenth-century Dutch
invention that is still in use today to
macerate fibers into pulp by cutting or
crushing fibers between the rotating
bars of the beater roll and the
stationary bars of the bed plate. The
term “Reina beater” refers to a beater
fabricated by David Reina, Brooklyn,
NY. The term “Valley beater” refers to
a test-beater used by the machinemade
Beating: The physical or mechanical
process by which fibers are cut,
shredded, macerated, and separated,
in water, until they form a usable pulp.
Common beating mechanisms include
Hollander beaters, whiz mixers or
hydro-pulpers, blenders, and mallets.
Casting: Making relief forms or
sculpture in-the-round with paper
pulp or newly-formed sheets of paper.
Cellulose: Chemically, a highmolecular-
weight polymer (or chain)
of glucose; the chief component of
plant tissue. The attraction between
cellulose molecules is the principal
source of fiber-to-fiber bonding.
Cotton and linen fibers contain the
most generous amounts of cellulose
and are ideal for papermaking.
Charge: Add pulp to a vat to replenish
vat stock: “charge” a vat.
Cotton Linters: The coarser, shorter
fibers left on the cotton seed after
the long staple fiber has been ginned
away for use in the textile industry.
They are cut from the seed, cooked,
and formed into pulp sheets. Cotton
linters are low-shrinkage fibers and
recommended for hand casting.
Because of the short fibers, they are
not a good basis for book papers,
which need longer fibers for durability
against handling and folding.
Couching: Transferring a freshly
made sheet of paper from the mould
surface onto a dampened felt. Rhymes
with “smooching”; from the French
word “coucher,” meaning to lie down
or put to bed.
Deckle: The removable frame which
fits onto the mould to contain pulp
and determine the size and shape of
Deckle Edge: The natural, feathery
edge of a handmade sheet of paper,
created by the deckle.
Drying: Paper can be dried in various
ways, including air drying, restraint
drying by applying pressure on top of
the paper, or by brushing or pressing
paper onto a surface made of metal,
glass, wood, or other material.
Felt: The material (traditionally a
woolen blanket) onto which a newly
formed sheet of paper is couched.
The paper stays on the felt until it has
been pressed, then is removed and
placed in a drying system.
Fiber: Cellulose-based material
derived from plant matter which forms
the basis of a sheet of paper.
Hog: the act of stirring up the slurry in
the vat immediately prior to forming
Hydrogen Bonding: The electrostatic
attraction between hydrogen atoms
in water helps to bring fibers together
as the sheet is formed. As the final
molecules of water leave the sheet,
hydrogen bonds form between the
“kiss off”: When a sheet of paper
which is still on the mould is
unsatisfactory, the mould surface is
touched onto the water surface of the
vat, causing the pulp to fall back into
Methyl Cellulose: A powdered
substance that is mixed with water
and is pH neutral and archival and
has many uses. It is usually used as
an adhesive and can be added to
the wet pulp to promote fiber-tofiber
bonding and strengthen paper
castings; it can be brushed onto dry
paper as a surface size, or added to
colored pulp to improve the pulp’s
flowing consistency for pulp painting.
Mould: A rectangular wooden frame
covered with screen or laid wire upon
which paper is formed and drained.
Pellon: Polyester sheet material
sold in fabric stores as interfacing
and available in varying thicknesses.
Can be used as a substitute for
Post: A stack of newly formed sheets
of paper between felts.
Pigment: Coloring matter in the form
of insoluble, finely ground particles,
which mechanically deposits to the
outside of the fibers they are coloring.
Generally, a retention agent is needed
to adhere the pigment to the fiber.
Pressing: Compaction of freshly
formed sheets to remove excess water
and compress the fibers sufficiently so
that the sheet can be lifted from the
felt without falling apart.
Pulp: The aqueous mixture of
macerated fibrous material from
which paper is made.
Rag: Woven fabric used for
papermaking. The term “rag” or “allrag”
properly describes a sheet made
entirely from woven fabric. Today
however, the term is sometimes used
as a misnomer to describe paper
made from cotton linters. to allow
the watery film of pulp to settle in an
Retting: a process employing the action of micro-organisms and moisture on plants to dissolve or rot away much of the cellular tissues and
Shake: The action of the papermaker
when s/he dips a layer of pulp onto
the mould and moves the mould in a
front-to-back and side-to-side motion
to allow the watery film of pulp to
settle in an even deposit.
Vat: A tub or vessel that holds pulp for
Vat Man's Tears: The marks made when you accidentally drip water across a freshly couched sheet.
Whiz mixer: Similar to a hydropulper,
a device with a mixing
attachment that hydrates pulp sheets
or already processed pulps. It is not
mechanically designed to beat rags