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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I couldn't find mull or rice paper so I'm using fiberglass tape to reinforce the spine of my next book -- I'll let you know how it goes!