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Monday, June 16, 2014

Taking Cover

Bookcloth was the focus of the June 14 CBAS Study Group meeting, held at the Northside Branch Library. Janice Kagermeier, with able assistance from Jeanne Taylor and Linda Dietrich, first guided the group of 14 in a discussion of commercially made bookcloth and then showed everyone two very different techniques for creating your own.

Iron-on adhesive, the easiest and quickest of the two, requires only an iron, an ironing board and some double-sided fusible adhesive. For our experiments, we used two weights of Heat 'n Bond brand fusible adhesive: Lite and Ultra Hold, both of which are double-sided and were backed with Japanese paper. Each of the weights have applications for book artists. The major drawback of the iron-on adhesive is that it is not archival, but for many applications, everyone agreed this wasn't a priority, so this method would work well.
Ironing the fusible adhesive onto the back of the fabric.
A few more minutes of ironing on the front of the fabric to assure a strong bond.
The other technique we learned was the more labor- and tool-intense traditional Japanese method of making bookcloth using cooked wheat starch paste. Janice demonstrated the style of bookcloth making she learned at a 2012 Penland workshop with Yukari Hayashida, a Japanese native who is now chief book conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. After lightly spraying the fabric with water, the backing paper—Japanese kozo (mulberry)—is brushed with either wheat or rice starch paste, firmly tamped onto the back of the wet fabric and finally mounted on a board to dry overnight.
Beginning to brush a thin coat of paste onto the mulberry paper backing.
This method, while more labor intensive, is archival and for those patient bookmakers who enjoy a more meditative approach, very satisfying. Rather than using the traditional Japanese tools such as the handmade brushes ($815) and horsehair strainer ($216) available from Talas, http://apps.webcreate.com/ecom/catalog/product_specific.cfm?ClientID=15&ProductID=18824
we found perfectly adequate, if not artistically satisfying substitutes, at the local hardware store.
A hallmark of Study Group: helping one another. In this case, carefully lowering the glued paper onto the back of fabric. Hardware store paint stirrers proved excellent substitutes for the traditional lifting stick.
Study Group members are a focused bunch. Everyone left with at least two pieces made using each technique, most with several more. It was especially fun to see the variety of fabrics used: beautiful batiks, linen, vintage floral prints, hand dyed African fabric, and a husband's old shirt all made an appearance.
Tamping the glued paper onto the back of the wet fabric before reversing it onto a drying board for the trip home.
We're looking forward to some fabric-covered books by Study Group members in the very near future.

Thanks to Janice K. for another excellent report!

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