Thursday, 29 November 2007

Book Cloth Tutorial

by comfortableshoes

I am a firm believer in making book cloth the old-fashioned traditional way: paste, thin paper and fabric. It’s been done for, well, centuries and it works and it’s not too hard.

First you need a starch paste. I like wheat paste. It’s cheap and easy to find. All you need is pastry flour or wheat starch and water. Pastry or cake flour is available in any grocery store and wheat starch is available in specialty stores. You can also buy “real” wheat paste. Mix a 1:4 ratio of flour to water. Mix it well, no lumps. Now cook it, whisk constantly over medium low heat until it becomes glossy and translucent. This amount of paste will make a lot of book cloth and paste paper. I would suggest using distilled water it won’t have any funny chemicals in it that will discolor later. If you are an acid free freak add a ½ tsp to baking soda to the water it will neutralize any acid content.

Cut your fabric to the size you would like. Use pre-washed and ironed fabric so that it doesn’t shrink when you are gluing it. Cut your thin paper 1 inch larger all around than the fabric. I really like washi paper best but student grade sumi painting paper is more than perfect.

Now you need to spread your glue. There are lots of differing opinions about how to do this, some people like to use a rubber spreader and other like glue brushes and others like cheap chip brushes or gesso brushes. I’m a brush woman myself. I used to use a 2-inch wide chip brush. It worked great, but now that I’m working with a smaller size of paper I use a medium glue brush. I suggest you try a variety of styles and see what works for you.

I hold my paper down with one hand in the center, spread glue allover the edges- generously. And then start to work the center. Work the glue around until the wrinkles relax out of the paper. With thin washi paper it takes 20 seconds or so for this to happen, constantly move the brush and glue, work fast and loose, spread the glue generously. Don’t skimp on the glue. When you see the paper relax, start to move excess glue to the edge and off the paper. You don’t want a ton of glue on there when you put the fabric on the paper; you want a thin EVEN layer.

Now your paper is relaxed with a thin even layer, you need to drop your fabric to the glue covered paper wrong side down into the glue. Gently rub the fabric into the glue. Now you need to pick the fabric, glue and paper sandwich up and take it to a window and place the sandwich to the window, fabric side to the glass, the extra glue covered paper will hold the paper and fabric taught while it dries keeping it for the most part flat and keeping tension on the fabric. (If you are lucky to have it- old window panes work great for this- I was lucky that when I bought my house there were several large pieces of plate glass in the garage.) AS it dries the paper will peel away from the glass, if it doesn’t it cleans easily with soap and water.

There are many reasons to back your cloth with paper. First it makes the fabric very easy to work with when binding, you fabric won’t stretch when you glue it to you board. Secondly it keeps the color of the cloth true to the fabric. Third, it decreases glue seepage. Fourth it makes a strong durable bond of fabric to paper to board. There are several tutorials out there for making book cloth with wonder under or other fusible interfacing. While it’s fast and easy to use its more expensive and unknown in terms of it’s being archival or acid free. (Let it be known here that I’m not an acid free freak. There are books and paper out there that were made long before PH was understood so my philosophy is that you can do what you want and most things are going to outlive you and probably your children.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Buy Handmade Goodies

Etsy Labs has provided this fun package of goodies for promoting the Buy Handmade initiative! These goodies are currently in my possession and I will be distributing them when I send out the book swap books. So if you are participating in the book swap (deadline is Nov 30th!) then you will be getting a handful of these freebies along with your swap book. What could be better?!? A surprise book and Etsy goodies coming in the mail! If there are any BEST members not participating in the book swap who would still like to get some of these Buy Handmade promo materials, please contact me and we'll work it out.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Paste Paper Tutorial

I use paste papers as inside cover pages for some books. This is a tutorial for how I make paste paper.

Wheat Paste Materials:
Wheat Starch or Unbleached Flour
Sauce Pan
Wooden Spoon
Air Tight Container - I use the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Sandwich containers.

Wheat paste can be made from wheat starch or unbleached flour. Wheat starch is not available in my area so I use unbleached flour. I use 1 part flour to 5 parts water. Wisk water and flour together to get rid of most of the lumps. Heat over Medium heat stiring constantly. Patience is key because if the heat is too high the flour will burn and stick to the bottom of the pan. When the flour thickens and turns sort of translucent it is ready. The paste will thicken more as it cools. Pour into an air tight container. Keep in the fridge or a cool place. Pour water over the top of the paste so that it covers the entire surface. This will help in keeping the paste air tight and reduce the production of mold. I toss any left over paste after a week.


Paste Paint Materials:
Wheat Paste
Small Containers - I use the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs Small Round containers.
Watercolor or Acrylic Paint
1 inch or larger brush
2 Damp Cloths
Cup of Water
Pattern tools - For this tutorial I used a hair pick, paint brush, rubber stamp, and a mug.
Paper - I used Mohawk Superfine Text Weight

Paste Paper Tutorial

After the paste has cooled, spoon a few scoops of paste into a small container and mix with a drop or two of paint. Watercolor or acrylic paints can be used to tint the paste. Watercolor mixed with the paste is very light and translucent while the acrylic is bolder and gives more coverage. Use a damp cloth to dampen the paper. Don't make the paper too wet so that the water pools on the surface and don't rub the paper to much. Using a large brush and working from the center out, brush the paste paint onto the paper using large brush strokes that extend over the edges of the paper. If the paste is too thick to spread evenly, dip the brush in water and brush through the thicker parts to thin them out. After creating patterns, lay on a flat surface to dry.

I used a few different tools to create patterns on my paste papers. I used a hair pick, the end of a paint brush to draw, a rubberstamp, and the bottom of a mug to create circles. Below are a few photos of how these turned out.

Paste Paper Tutorial
Paste Paper Tutorial
Paste Paper Tutorial
Paste Paper Tutorial

Here are a few photos of books that I've made that used paste paper.

Swirl Foam Stamp Paste Paper covers.
Coptic Stitch Book
Sunshine Paste Paper inside a case bound book.
Case Bound Book

Also posted on my personal blog: Paper Kitty

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

First Books

There wasn't much bookbinding to do with the first books, because of course, they were clay tablets. When people got serious about the need to preserve information, written language appeared on the scene. This happened around 3500 BC when the ancient Sumerians began using cuneiform to record information in clay. Cuneiform consists of wedge-shaped marks, made by pressing a square stylus onto a wet clay surface. After the writer was finished, the clay would be left to dry in the sun or baked in an oven. They also made clay tubes or "slipcases" for the tablets; when the tablet was being stored, it could be inserted into a slipcase for protection. Tablets of this sort were made by the Babylonians, Sumerians, as well as the Assyrians. There were thousands of these clay books at the royal library of Nineveh (Assyria), covering an incredible range of topics like astronomy, mythology, geography, etc. (Source: Creative Bookbinding by Pauline Johnson, p.4-5)

So although we've moved beyond clay tablets for preserving important documents, we can still play with the process. LadyArtisan does some fabulous book covers using polymer clay. I think the ancient Sumerians would love this!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

BEST Pick: Red all over

Crimson Foliage Journal

Flurrsprite's crimson journal suits my just-starting-to-feel- the-holiday-mood mood this weekend. Hardcover, case-bound, with 280 pages. This fabulous red paper is Thai banana paper, which is accented with the silver toned foliage pendant. Rather festive even if that wasn't intended! Perfect for a holiday journal, isn't it?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

the secret's in the telling...

it's no secret that there are many talented individuals on the bookbinding etsy street team. all you have to do is search the tag "bestbooks" on etsy and you will see page after page [30 to be precise!] of beautiful books and book related items.

the problem is, not enough people know about us. and we are trying to change that. thanks to a recent post on notebookism, a blog dedicated to sharing all things notebook related, we have been getting some much needed attention. [thanks leslie!]

some other great blogs have been featuring BEST members as well. here are few to check out:
if you have linked to us or written up a special feature about the BEST street team around, let us know! and please. go spread the word. it's only a secret if you keep it.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

America Recycles Day - November 15th

Today is America Recycles day! Pictured to the right (an offering by Subu) is only one of the many offerings that BEST has made from recycled materials!
The EPA has some simple suggestions on how everyone can make a difference!

1. Buy recycled products. When we buy recycled products, we create an economic incentive for recyclable materials to be collected, manufactured, and marketed as new products.

2. Purchase durable, long lasting goods.

3. Re-use items by repairing them, donating them to charity and community groups, or selling them also reduces waste.

4. Use a product more than once, either for the same purpose or for a different purpose. Reusing, when possible, is preferable to recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again.

5. Reduce your packaging: buy bulk or concentrated products when you can.

6. Another form of recycling is composting. Composting is the controlled biological decomposition of organic matter, such as food and yard wastes, into humus, a soil-like material. Composting is nature's way of recycling organic wastes into new soil used in vegetable and flower gardens, landscaping, and many other applications.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Ten Minute Marketing for Etsy Sellers

This is the holiday shopping has begun. Etsy and some partner organizations have launched the Buy Handmade initiative to encourage people to do their holiday shopping outside the big box shops. So that means, everyone should buy handmade stuff (i.e. books) from us. If you think this is a good idea, then Etsy wants you to take the pledge, and share it with others.
I pledge to buy handmade this
holiday season, and request that
others do the same for me.

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

Etsy also want to help us help ourselves by offering some easy marketing suggestions. They have outlined a ten minute marketing effort for Etsy sellers to try each day of the week. You can find their full descriptions of the daily marketing ideas on the Etsy Teams website. This is a summary of their ideas for you to try this week.
  • Monday: Add your Etsy shop URL to your email signatures

  • Tuesday: Add an Etsy Mini to your website or blog

  • Wednesday: Spam your friends and coworkers with an email about the buyhandmade pledge, links to etsy, etc.

  • Thursday: Print some of the postcards or other promotional graphics and distribute them to your friends, leave them in the break room, etc.

  • Friday: Tell a stranger about Etsy while you're waiting at the bus stop or buying your morning coffee.

Easy peasy. Have fun with it.

Friday, 9 November 2007

BEST Pick: BEST Flour

When Scodioli joined BEST recently, this book in her shop caught my attention immediately. Such an obvious choice to be featured on the BEST blog.
BEST Flour Journal

Scodioli's journal is made using an antique 10 lb. flour sack for the cover, thus making it truly one of a kind. These are such a great idea, check out the shop to see all the other unique cover materials being used...cornmeal sacks, old recipe books...

Monday, 5 November 2007

BEST Online Sources for Paper

Paper Studio
A wide range and great selection of decorative papers, stationery papers, and fine art papers, including lots of Japanese papers, handmade papers, origami paper, marbled papers, and some variety packs. Paper-related resources and demo videos also available online.
Recommended by DevilsParadise

They carry lots of Japanese papers and other decorative flat papers. Also lots of marbled paper, metallic paper, paste papers, lokta papers, Indian papers, and so on! Lots of bookbinding supplies including book board and text blocks!
Recommended by Lostmymarbles and KristinCrane

Big selection of decorative papers including marbled paper, silkscreen prints, Japanese papers, handmade papers, embossed papers, Unryu papers, other commercial decorative papers, as well as a good selection of art, conservation, and printing papers.
Recommended by Lostmymarbles

RISD Store
If you are in the area, the Rhode Island School of Design store has some papers for bookbinding although they can't be purchased online.
Recommended by KristinCrane

NY Central Art Supply
These folks claim to have the “most extensive assortment of papers anywhere in the world” so it must be good and they clearly have everything, but they aren’t really set up for online shoppers yet unless you just want to trudge though the online catalogue and call them.
Recommended by KristinCrane and Jengsshop

Dolphin Papers
Paper samplers are available for their various product lines. The website is not set up for online shopping but if you know what kinds of papers you want and don’t mind ordering over the telephone then their prices and customer service are excellent.
Recommended by TheCraftyKitten

Utrecht Art Supplies
They have just a small bookbinding section, but a good selection of fine art papers, printmaking papers, craft papers, and pastel papers.
Recommended by Jengsshop

A small selection of hand marbled papers and some paste papers by featured paper artists.
Recommended by Myhandboundbooks

A large selection of art papers and decorative papers from around the world. Small swatches of the papers can be purchased individually. Lots of handmade papers, banana paper, Japanese washi, screenprinted papers, as well as some Somerset book papers, and some recycled papers.
Recommended by Myhandboundbooks

Creative Papers Online
Extensive selection of papers, claiming to be the "largest handmade paper merchant online - since 2002." They have batik papers, block print papers, marbled paper, embroidered papers, Japanese papers of all kinds, recycled organic papers, tree free papers, a big card stock selection, and lots of other decorative papers from around the world and some that are exclusive to this shop. You can contact them about buying wholesale to get a good discount on all your paper.
Recommended by LadyArtisan

Artistic Papers
This shop specializes in Amate paper (bark paper) and has a great selection of colours and textures and different amate papers with various fiber inclusions.
Recommended by LadyArtisan

Jerry's Artarama
A great selection of art papers including watercolour paper, pastel papers, printmaking papers etc, from Arches, Fabriano, Canson, Strathmore and others. Watch for sales as they are likely to offer really good discount pricing.
Recommended by LadyArtisan

Aiko's Art Materials
Specializes in Japanese washi, every type that you can imagine. Japanese papers and bookcloth can be ordered online.
Recommended by RePaper

Ichiyo Art Center / Washi Accents
Specializes in Japanese washi, lots of yuzen chiyogami as well as Nepali and Thai papers and calligraphy papers, origami paper, and some nice Noh Chiyo papers.
Recommended by RePaper

Paper mojo
An extensive collection of decorative papers including Japanese Chiyogami, marbled paper, Batik paper, and many classic and modern printed designs. Also a big selection of handmade papers, different fiber inclusion papers, metallics, and embossed papers.
Recommended by RePaper

Hiromi Paper
An extensive selection of decorative papers, art papers, stationery papers, conservation papers, handmade papers, and papers from around the world.

Anther wide selection of art paper and decorative papers, including Ann Muir marbled papers and marbled papers from Spain, France, and England. Lots of other quality printed and handmade papers from around the world.

Featured on Notebookism

One of our BEST members is featured on the website today. MyHandboundBooks offers some tutorials on her blog and the Notebookism people asked if they could put a little feature on their site!

Check out this Chopstick Notebook tutorial and her other tutorials at

Thursday, 1 November 2007

BEST Books Shop
The Bookbinding Etsy Street Team shop is now officially open! The members of BEST will be contributing books to this shop to raise funds for the team. Add us to your favorites! This will become a great place to see a wide range of handmade books all in the same spot. Come and check out the selection often.