When one door (to the beater room) closes…!


The NEA bought me a beater today! 

Well, not really, but yes really: my NEA stipend from the WSW paid for an early Reina beater. Tomorrow or Monday, I will drive it down to David Reina’s shop in Brooklyn, and he will have it retrofitted with a roll height counter, and ‘dial it in’ for me, as my old friend Ed would have said.  I’m thrilled!

I have wanted one of these for a long, long time, and I began saving for one last April when the chicanery began to become truly transparent. But, my ‘beater fund’ was only a little over half full when I was cut off from the studios I’d spent fifteen years helping to build. For most of the year, I’d also been asking around, fruitlessly, for a lead on any kind of used machine capable of over-beating fiber. I knew I would be able to process what I need for the rest of the summer here at WSW, but I wasn’t at all sure what I was going to do afterwards, and that was disturbing, to say the least.

Then, late one night a week or so into the residency, while I was tediously researching grants that could help me obtain the equipment I need to make my work, I spontaneously took a very, very long shot.  I didn’t expect anything to come of it; these machines are hard to find used, because they’re such total workhorses and they go on forever.

Unbelievably, in two days, I had the e-mail address of a lovely painter named Leslie, with the caution that the beater she wanted to sell might not still be available.  I sent off a two-sentence inquiry, and got a reply from her right away, with photos, and a price that exactly equaled my stipend. I shot back: “I’m interested. Where are you located?”  She named a NY state town a ways northeast of here, and incredibly, added: “it breaks down and fits into the back of a Subaru; that’s how I moved it when I got it.”

So: here I am in NY, with exact change, so to speak – and though Leslie didn’t know it, I drive a Subaru Forester. I knew this was my machine.

I just spent a very pleasant day driving the Taconic Parkway and back roads through verdant hills in lovely, mild, sunny weather.  Though the beater’s been stored for many years, it was amply greased before it was tucked away, and it fired right up.  I also bought a mini-tablesaw-type thing used in the garment industry that instantly cuts up fabric to pulp (and sharpens itself to boot), and 36 pounds of abaca half-stuff, at great, generous prices. And the beater is in my Subaru.

Just under one month from having a door slammed in my face, another permanent portal opened!

And ain’t it just beautiful?  The tub is bronze! 


(Thank you, David!  Thank you, Leslie!  Woooohoooo!)