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Re: [BKARTS] linen tapes: tensile strength vs. fold durability

Amy and Patricia,
Both of you have asked some very good questions, many of which I and a
few of our colleagues have been asking for years. Unfortunately, there
has been very little research into our use of linen versus the possible
use of cotton. We have some information from textile conservators, such
as Olivia Primanis and I have learned. At the same time, we can do some
simple, grass-roots testing, but we really need someone to research the
various aspects of both fibers.
As I have mentioned, most of the today's flax is retted with oxalic
acid AND then bleached to obtain, what the manufacturers claim to be a
better fiber. I suggest that this type of processing is for today's
market, but has little concern for the long term, especially when we
use linen thread for non-adhesive bindings and exposed-sewing
structures. And, when we combine that processing information with the
rigid (brittle?) nature of the fiber, we may be asking too much of the
traditional fiber. Yes, it has great tensile strength, but what are we
looking for and what do we need. Remember as well, that we are making a
kettle stitch (knot) that further stresses the linen fiber.
On the other hand, we have learned that cotton has a better folding
capability. Yes, it is weaker in tensile strength, but should that be a
big concern? We know that unbleached cotton is available, in fact I
obtained some samples of unbleached cotton thread in a size (bulk)
comparable to our usual linen -- this was supplied to me by TESTFABRICS
Inc., but I have not had any time to work/play with it. In one very
quick test, I found that cotton could be a better fiber for our
purposes, BUT more testing is needed.

There are many factors to consider and it is my hope that a major
institution will look into the various aspects of both linen and cotton
fibers, as a sewing thread, as a sewing support, and as a fabric for
hinges and for covering -- maybe someday?

Bill Minter

####################### On Feb 28, 2005, at 8:30 AM, Amy West wrote:

Just because of my own sheer thickheadedness I'm going to rephrase my
question on why we use (or shouldn't use) linen tapes:

Given what has been said regarding linen's good tensile strength but
poor fold durability, do we use linen tapes because of linen's
tensile strength then? Is fold durability not a huge concern for
tapes because of how they are used in the structure? Should we not
use linen tapes because of fold durability issues?

And regarding Bill Minter's fold test of linen vs. cotton: were both
samples plainweave? And have you tested tapes for their fold
durability? Again, does fold durability really matter for tapes?

On Feb 26, 2005, at 4:13 PM, Patricia Grass wrote:

In all the classes I have taken and all the books I have read, I have
seen it recommended that we sew books together with cotton thread. If
fibers are less "breakable" than linen fibers why do we sew with linen
than cotton. What characteristic of linen makes it better to sew with.
Patricia Grass



William Minter Bookbinding & Conservation, Inc. 4364 Woodbury Pike Woodbury, PA 16695 814-793-4020 Fax: 814-793-4045 Email: wminter@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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