Backing The Cloth

Book-cloth is made by backing cloth with paper. Later on in the binding process the fabric can be glued freely without glue-marks appearing through the weave.

This is just one of the processes needed in binding. Bookbinding is in many ways an art of bringing together the right string of processes with the right materials into a single object. At the least, this is the challenge the bookbinder faces.

Backing the cloth is one of my favourite processes because of it's subtlety and tactile interaction. Much of the time I work with PVA glues, but working with wheat paste, which I cook before-hand, is far more enjoyable and a welcome processes. I delight in the core concept here, which is that you require moisture in a controlled manner now, so that you can use it freely later on. Variations on this process include wetting the downside of the fabric to make it adhere flat on the surface; using a flat scraper to smooth the pasted paper (where as here I have brushed the paper while it hangs instead); and using paste to mount the fabric on a drying board. Or rather, those are some options Kojiro Ikegami, the Japanse Master, suggests in his book.

Making book-cloth is a priority for me. Without doing so I would be limited in my design choices and also my ability to chose environmentally low-impact materials. I prioritise materials and structure in these middle parts of making, and keep outward adornments in my work to a minimum.

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