For their typical production runs, Juan and Javier use a classic western paper making technique which consists of scooping from a tank of pulp onto a screen with a deckle attached. This requires an excess of pulp and regular top-ups, as well as skill and acute awareness, in order to maintain sheet consistency.
At a certain point, though, there’s not enough pulp in the tank to dip a screen into, so they drain and strain the tank, then squeeze the remaining pulp into balls. Dried out, they can be rehydrated later and used again in another batch.
With the Nepalese style, it’s possible to use all the pulp, which offers an important advantage when working with a small test batch, especially a plant fibre that has required so many painstaking steps.
For our Rumex crispus test, Juan filled a small rectangular container with water beside our bucket of fresh-milled pulp. He placed a screen at the bottom and held a deep-walled deckle tightly to its upper surface.
With his free hand, he scooped a cup of pulp from the bucket and poured it into the deckle, which was 3/4 full of water. Then he lifted the screen and deckle straight up. The water poured out and the pulp remained on the screen, ready to be couched onto felts.
Each time he poured the same volume of pulp into the deep deckle, which ensured consistent sheet thickness. Very simple, very efficient.