Friday, February 22, 2013

Bookbinding 101: Decorative Paper

There are thousands of options for using decorative paper in your handmade books. Links at the bottom of this post are places where the papers discussed below can be found. Following are  seven short HD videos showing several popular types of bookbinding papers. Although video isn't quite the same as holding a paper in hand, it's actually does a decent job of giving a sense of what a paper is like, much better than a still photo can do.  Hopefully these can help you, whether a new or experienced bookbinder, gain a sense of papers you may not have handled before.

We'll be going over papers from around the world (Thailand, India, Nepal, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, France and the U.S.)

The papers we will be showing you are made with projects like bookbinding in mind. Most of them are acid free, bend and fold and wear well, and may have other qualities that make them great for bookbinding.

A few words about scrapbook paper:

Scrapbook paper is meant to be cut, stamped, written on and glued onto. This type of paper is usually not made to be folded over hardcover books. And that's a key point. No fold well, no put on book. Most scrapbook papers have a core in it that is white, which is printed on with a decorative print, and the kind of inks used for the print will usually quickly wear off the surface of the scrapbook paper when glued onto a book, especially along the edges of the book. It was made to sit under plastic sheets with delicate photos on top of it and to be handled carefully. There are some scrapbook papers that might do well, but in our experience they are few. If it's a paper you are absolutely in love with, you may wish to test it and see how well it folds and wears before putting it on a book. Otherwise, we'd suggest keeping these types of papers for endsheets if used in a way that doesn't need to be folded.

Viewing tip: for the highest detail, view full screen and choose 1080p (these options are available in the lower right of each video once it starts playing).

Part 1: Unryu and papers from Thailand:

Part 2: Lokta paper from Nepal

Part 3: Papers from India

Part 4: Japanese Papers

Part 5: Italian Papers

Part 6: Marbled Paper

Part 7: Bring on the rest!

Where to get these papers:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Is winter over yet?

We're longing for spring, but here's a look back to our own first unofficial day of winter this last December, when it was still magical to have snow on the ground.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bookbinding 101: Book Cloth

Let's be honest. 

The first time I was told to pick out a book cloth to bind a book, I thought, Why would anyone want their handmade book to look like it came from a public library? 

That was back when I had a limited knowledge of book cloth. 

Let's be honest again. 

I still don't know very much about book cloth. However, I have come to appreciate it a bit more since my first experience in binding with it several years ago.  Here's my limited knowledge for you:

1  Library book cloth is often called Library Buckram. It's a very heavy cotton cloth that has been treated to resist dirt, water, oils and wear. It's thick and sometimes comes shiny. I have a sheet of burgundy library buckram and it sort of feels plasticky. Buckram can still be beautiful. When it is not (and if you ask me it usually isn't), it is pretty much because it doesn't care to be, as its first purpose is to protect. But still, it can have its moments of beauty. 

 I like working with book cloth that has been backed with paper. You can buy starched bookcloth without the paperback. However, it's nice to have the paper backing on it so you don't have to worry about any glue coming through the fabric. If you buy a starched, nonpaper backed piece of book cloth, I recommend using wheat paste with it instead of PVA. The wheat paste won't (it could, but most likely won't) stain the fabric like PVA would if it happens to soak through. 

 I love Japanese Book Cloth. Especially the natural linen. It's not actually natural linen, they just call it that. The "natural linen" Japanese book cloth is actually Rayon. It looks like linen and is very similar to its natural cousin but it's really a synthetic rayon. The cover on the right in the photo shows the Natural Linen Japanese Book Cloth in action. It's beautiful and simple and I absolutely adore the texture and feel. It's expensive, but I feel like it is totally worth its price. 

Covers made by Amy Spencer at our Los Angeles Book Arts
Workshop, May 2012, during the Raised and Inset Designs class.
Left board is lambskin and the right board is Natural Linen
Japanese Book Cloth. 
4  I also like Italian Book Cloth (Cialux). It's backed and comes in a variety of beautiful colors.

5  We had a custom order for a couple of silk covered books. We used silk duponi, which we first backed with paper as discussed in point eight below. The idea behind using this silk for the cover was that it would look old and worn by the time the artist was finished drawing in the book because the silk would wear very quickly. I wish I had "after" photos of these, but here are the "before" photos: 

Silk won't hold up on books very well, but for its purpose with these, I'm sure it did its job wonderfully, aging the covers quickly.

6  Black book cloth is very difficult to work with and keep nice. It shows everything. So if you are picking out book cloth for the first time. Don't choose black. 

7  Did I mention I love Japanese Book Cloth? Here's another example:

Click here to see more about this book.

8 You can make your own bookcloth. There are two ways. One is more traditional, and you can make it at archival pH levels so as to make your books last longer. This way involves using wheat paste, pasting the fabric onto washi or kozo. The other way is to use Heat n' Bond or Wonder Under, first ironing it to the fabric, then ironing the now glue backed fabric to washi or another type of thin paper. Kristin Crane has a how-to-make-bookcloth tutorial. Worth a look if you have a fabric you'd love to use to cover your book.

I'm still learning about book cloth. If you'd love to share your knowledge or experience using it please  leave a comment.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bookbinding 101: Rice Paper and Mull

Rice paper and mull are used to strengthen the spine of a book.

Mull is a net-like, woven linen or cotton fabric (linen is stronger than cotton) that's been treated with a starch to stiffen and strengthen it. Mull is also called "Super" and "Crash" and "Tarlatan". The mull is glued onto the spine of certain book structures to aid in strengthening the spine, and, when overlapping the spine, also helps strengthen the endpapers in the hinge part where they attach to the book board. If this doesn't make sense now, it will in future tutorials where we show it being used in constructing a book (see photo of spines with mull below). Mull can be substituted with natural, unbleached, undyed muslin.

Rice paper is very thin. Almost tissue paper thin. However, it's also extremely strong for how thin it is, and can be used the same way mull is, but on smaller or lighter books. Mull is thicker than rice paper, and we use it for heavier or larger books, but rice paper has been outstanding for 4" x 6" and smaller books. It's especially great for miniature books when the thicker mull would be too bulky.

The bottom book has mull that overlaps the spine, which in this case,
will be used to attach the book board covers, helping, along with the endpaper,
to strengthen the hinge of the cover. The top book, a cord bound,
has mull glued down to just the spine without overlapping.

Anything to add to the discussion? Please leave a comment.