Welcome to the website of Peter Gentenaar MFA and Patricia Torley. Since 1970, we’ve been exploring the mysteries of plant and paper fibers. We have each specialized in different, organic facets of paper making.
To keep up to date with our latest activities please visit our blog:
Here is a short impression of our 2018 show at Pulchri Studio in The Hague:
With thanks to Anne Gentenaar for making the movie.
Paper objects, by Peter Gentenaar
My interest in paper started while working as a printmaker, when my engravings had such deep relief, that commercial paper could not fill it.
I decided to make my own paper and was helped by Jo Persoon at the Royal Dutch Paper Factory, KNP. He taught me about beaters for making paper pulp and vacuum systems to suck water out of pulp, to make paper. The laboratory beater I used was unable to process long fibers, so I built a beater of my own design.
A paper sheet is thin and strong and, reinforced with very thin ribs of bamboo, can be compared to a leaf. By beating pulp a long time, an extraordinary play of forces occurs during the drying process of my paper sculpture. The paper shrinks considerably, up to 40%, and the force of this puts the non-shrinking bamboo framework under stress, just as a leaf when it drys.
My sculptures start as totally 2-dimensional, colored sheets of pulp laying on my vacuumtable. The forms in my work are caused by pulp drying and shrinking in unison. The simplicity of the material, which is the carrier, the color, the texture and the form, in one, makes working with it wonderful and direct.
To bring paper art to the public and to be inspired by fellow paper artists, I instigated the Holland Paper Biennial in Museum Rijswijk and CODA, Apeldoorn. With friends, Pat and I have published seven books with the first seven Biennials.
Pat Torley took thirty years to develop her pulp-painting technique: instead of paint she uses very watery paper pulp, layer upon layer. Her pallet consists of many containers with different colored pulps made of fibers like cotton, linen, sisal, silk, kozo and gampi. She sucks the watery pulp into a pipette or turkey baster and lays the pulp in thin layers on a screen. With a knife she shapes the forms in the thin pulp.
She works upside down, starting the painting with the colored layers your eye sees first, with as many as 20 layers following. She applies the layers of pulp wet on wet, requiring much precision to prevent damaging the layers that are already there.
When the painting is finished a vacuum pump is used to suck off the remaining water. The end result is an amazingly thin piece of paper. The lower layers of the pulp show through the transparent top layers. This blending gives a very subtle way of color mixing and shading in the picture.
Each book is an artwork in itself. The first section is a catalog of the exposition and the second consists of articles on cultural and historical subjects focused on a certain theme. There are paper samples from some of the artists and for some of the articles.
Loes Schepens, graphic design Eindeloos, did the design for all the books.
Peter and Pat have each had a book published in the series Haags Palet, and also are included in several other books about their own work, in Dutch and English.
Pat’s newer book in the Haags Pallet series (the square red one) has about 50 pictures, is in Dutch and English, and costs 15 euro, ex. postage
The need to make good pulp from long fibers like flax and hemp made me look at different beaters on the market. No beater had the qualities I looked for, so in 1991, I designed my own HOLLANDER, BEATER.
A machine suitable for beating long fibers, flax, hemp or sisal, as well as for beating soft and short fibers like cotton linters. The machine is built in stainless steel and has a bronze bedplate. The bronze bedplate has the same curve as the knife roll, this gives effective grinding/beating over a surface of: ± 20 x 10 cm. The distance between the roll and the bedplate can be finely adjusted. Also the weight under which the fibers are beaten can be varied from 0 to 60 kilo’s. This means you can use the beater on very delicate fibers and on very strong and rough fibers as well. Because of the construction of the beater, see photo, all the parts like the bronze bed-plate and the knives roll can be reached and cleaned. This means you can color your fibers with pigments or dye stuff in the beater. I never have to cook my fibers. There is a factory guarantee on the beater of one year and it has an EU CE safety certificate. The beater comes with the following instruction video:
Dimensions: 112 cm long; 62 cm wide; 105 cm high. The weight is 175 kilo. It can beat at one time: 500 grams of unrefined fiber, like raw flax or hemp; or 1000 grams of industrially cleaned halfstuff cellulose or cut up textile rags in pieces of 5 x 5 cm. The tub holds 35 liters of water. The noise is strong at the beginning of the beating and lowers into a more constant rumble after a while. I advise to put the beater in a separate little room. Beating times for unrefined fiber 4 to 6 hours. For halfstuff cellulose and rags ± 2 hours I do arrange the crate and the transportation all over the world.
Beater with 1.5 kilo watt, 3-phase, 380 volts electro motor