Friday, 24 February 2012

The delights of paste paper

My most recent book is a full binding in dark olive-coloured bookcloth, with a small panel insert, which contains an abstract piece of 'artwork' (and I use the term loosely) - the results of my experiments with paste paper.

As I'm sure those of you familiar with bookbinding will be aware, paste papers are created by mixing bookbinding paste, consisting of flour and water, with paint.  The resulting mix can then be manipulated on paper in any number of ways, using brushes, combs, fingers or stamps to create distinctive abstract patterns with an almost three dimensional quality to them.

Predominantly used on endpapers and on book covers, paste papers are one of the earliest methods used to decorate paper.  In the course of my research on producing paste papers, I came across some truly beautiful examples on the web, which demonstrate just how much of an art form it can be in the right hands.  One of my favourite discoveries was the work of Pattie Palmer Baker, whose calligraphy and collage work uses paste papers to stunning effect, creating a luminous, almost stained glass effect.  Other great examples of paste paper can be found on Flickr - I particularly like the work of Veronica Phillips and Zebra Crossing Picture Factory.

With such wonderful examples, I was truly inspired to create my own "masterpiece", and there are a number of excellent online tutorials to choose from.  I'd recommend Lili's Bookbinding Blog and Bookbinding Etsy Street Team ones, but there are plenty out there, and I haven't even begun to investigate what's on YouTube relating to the subject.

My own version was a yellow and blue paint combination, which I transformed into an abstract pattern by means of a paintbrush, fingers and a small stick.  My final experimental touch was to add a touch of gold embossing powder, which I then blasted with the heating gun, which gave the finished piece just the right amount of 'bling'.  Shying away from using my experiment to cover the whole of the book cover, I cut a section out of the finished design, and set it into a recessed panel on the right hand side of the front cover.

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