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Re: Homemade book cloth cont.
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Re: Homemade book cloth cont.
- From: William Minter <WMNTR@AOL.COM>
- Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 11:45:28 EDT
- Message-Id: <200106131545.IAA19546@palimpsest.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: READ THE FAQ at http://www.philobiblon.com" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
In a message dated 6/12/01 1:32:33 PM, joycej@CI.PETERSBURG.AK.US writes:
<< I am still wondering about bookcloth--NOT joining cloth to paper as several
respondents wrote about, but what was in the first message a week or so ago,
that is using a mixture of wheat paste, methyl cellulose and acrylic paint
on muslin. It sounded like there was no paper involved just the fabric and
I am still wondering just how you apply the mixture to the cloth.
The message also spoke of embossing the cloth with textures. Again I wonder
how this is done. If there are parts that are sticking up to the abrade in
use? Or is it a more subtle thing?
I had been intending on elaborating, but was tied up with my sons and other
business. Hopefully, the following will give you a better idea of what I have
I have tried various techniques of making my own bookcloth. This desire
developed because of a lack, in my opinion, of good quality commercial
bookcloth. Most of the available bookcloth is too weak. It is initially made
with a thin fabric that is overly processed (harmed) by cleaning with steam
and chemical bleaches, and then stretched back to its original woven width.
(We all know what happens when cotton is washed in hot water.) I feel that
the main constituent of most modern bookcloth is the sizing and/or coating
with little inherent strength.
I am also concerned about the longevity of other bookcloths such as those
made from rayon, but that is a topic for another discussion.
Initially, I worked with linen fabric, but linen is a brittle fiber when
compared to cotton. Yes, linen has a better tensile strength, but flexing
strength is needed, so cotton is the better choice.
I purchase unbleached-cotton fabric (muslin) from TESTFABRICS (Emil:
email@example.com) because of its known properties. You should know that
material from the local fabric stores may have been treated with
wrinkle-resisting chemicals. I want the natural stuff. I have also been using
some cotton and linen blends, also from Testfabrics.
I tried sizing the with starch paste and Procian dyes, but the color was too
I like the use of acrylic artists paints (especially the GOLDEN FLUID
ACRYLICS -- no messing with pigments). Acrylic paints allow for a small
variation -- visual texturing?-- of the color, much like the "Linen Finish"
as designated by bookcloth manufacturers.
I thought of using starch as the size as originally done, but I was a little
concerned about the attraction of bugs. So I have been mixing starch paste
with methylcellulose and then add the acrylics.
The size is applied to both sides of the cotton. The fabric is laid on a
sheet of Mylar and that side is sized. The fabric is then flipped and the
other side is sized and allowed to dry on the Mylar. Uniformity of color can
be difficult to achieve without streaking, and I have been working to develop
a better method.
Depending on the viscosity of the size, there can be some pin holes in the
resulting fabric, but that is easy to work with when covering.
One advantage of making your own book cloth is that it molds very nicely over
the raised-bands of older books. Those books might be otherwise need to be
covered in leather, but are not because of the cost.
PAPER LINED FABRIC: this is done to obtain a very uniform color -- "Vellum
Finish" as designated by bookcloth manufacturers.
The cloth is faced (lined) with Japanese paper (a colored paper such as
Moriki works well -- I use a color that is lighter than the intended final
color). After the laminate has dried, it is colored/sized with the same
concoction as above and allowed to dry on Mylar. After the colored/sized
surface has dried, it is again wetted with a dilute methylcellulose size.
When the upper surface has dried (yet still moist inside) it is embossed with
a coarse stainless steel screen (like window screen). The assembly is placed
in a nipping press for a few minutes. The screen is then rotated 45 degrees
and again nipped. The resulting pattern is very satisfying, especially for
the repair of old books.
Other materials for embossing/texturing need to be found. As mentioned
before, I would like to find other materials without going to the high cost
of having photoengraved dies made.
Good Luck with your work,
William Minter Bookbinding & Conservation, Inc.
4364 Woodbury Pike
Woodbury, PA 16695
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