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Books Covered in Paste Paper

May 9, 2008

Update:  I just added a paste paper making tutorial. For those of you interested, it can be found here.

Historically, bookbinders made a lot of their own decorated papers. The most common decorative techniques were probably marbling and paste paper. There are other historical decorative paper techniques, such as printed papers, but those require more equipment.

My brother asked what paste papers are for. In a nutshell, they are used for book covers. But I’ve also seen it lining the inside of old furniture: drawers and wardrobes. Today it is still made and used in bookbinding. I love making paste papers, and I actually do use them in my bindings all the time.

Paste paper making is pretty much glorified fingerpainting. A bookbinder might have a batch of wheat starch (or any other starch) paste that they need to use up before it spoils. They would simply add a bit of pigment to the paste, brush it out onto some paper, and either leave it at that, or draw designs into the paste. The displaced paste leaves a 3-dimensional pattern, and although the paper dries flat, the visual depth remains.

I have a terribly time-consuming habit of hunting for images of decorated papers and bindings on the internet, so I figured I may as well share, since I know I would love to stumble onto this kind of collection online. For copyright information, click on the image and it will take you to the original source. (Some of these I downloaded years ago and so I don’t have the sources anymore–I apologize to those to whom I should give the credit!)

This page may grow as I find more. Either that or I’ll just post a follow-up at some point…

british library example of paste paper binding

british library example of paste paper binding

british library example of paste paper binding

british library example of paste paper binding

british library example of paste paper binding paste paper book

clair mazairczyk\

clair mazairczyk\

The following pastepapers / books were made by me:

One Comment leave one →
  1. José Clari Agulló permalink
    May 19, 2009 3:23 pm

    Hola. me llamo José,vivo y trabajo en Valencia- Alzira (España) por casualidad he encontrado este sitio tan bonito. Soy encuadernador, vivo de esta profesión tan maravillosa, solo queria decirte que me encanta tu pagina o blog. Rebuscando por la red con motivo del papel pintado al engrudo lo he encontrado.
    Es un placer ver tu trabajo, gracias colega.


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