Rather than starting from the pulp half-stuff we sell in sheet form, many papermakers want to work from the raw fibres used to make the pulp.
In addition to being made into pulp, these can also be cut up as inclusions for texture and visual appeal.
For making pulp, the abaca can be cooked in soda ash and beaten with mallets, but most of the other fibres must be processed in a Hollander beater (whether cooked or not). Cooking softens the bond between the fibres and dissolves some of the brown (mostly lignin) so it can be rinsed off. Even when not cooked, the fibres should be rinsed before beating until the rinse water appears clean. This reduces foaming in the beater for some fibres such as hemp.
When beating these fibres, they tend to twist into long ropy knots, or pile up near the outfall and clog the beater. Both these problems can be reduced by starting with fibres cut shorter, and also by using less fibre in the beater batch. Until the pulp circulates freely, you have to keep an eye on the beater to break up clogs as they start.
I’ve added a page showing photos of the fibres we currently sell so you can get some idea of their colour and texture.