creating beautiful journals and books

Making book cloth

Test book made using vintage handwoven chinese silk.

Test book made using vintage handwoven chinese silk.

I love the feel of cloth covered books and the texture book cloth gives to an old or new book cover. I’ve attempted to make it several times with varying results.

When I found a vintage hand-woven silk tablecloth in the op shop recently, I knew immediately it would make a beautiful cover for a book. Guided by clear and helpful instructions from the Canberra Bookbinders Group, I set out to do a test on a less precious piece of fabric to familiarise myself with the process.

The vintage silk cloth

The vintage silk table cloth

The first step was to make the paste to glue the fabric to the Indian rag paper I used as backing. I made my paste from rice flour (you can also use wheat starch or cornflour) and water, cooking it on the stove top and sieving it, when cool, through a cloth to eliminate any lumps.

Detail of chinese silk

Detail of chinese silk

Then I sprayed a piece of beveled glass (which I usually use for printing-ink) with water, lay the fabric face down and flattened it onto the glass. I then applied the glue to the paper and placed it on top of the fabric, ensuring the paper was at least 2cm larger than the fabric all round. I used my hands and a bone folder to press out any bubbles or wrinkles and put the whole thing on the back deck to dry. After a few hours the book cloth was ready and I was able to cut it from the glass using a knife and voila! Success!

Encouraged by my results with the test, I cut the delicate silk tablecloth into three different sections –  enough to cover three books (two of which I have yet to make). Following the same procedure, I produced three beautiful pieces of book cloth. I used the plain, smaller piece to experiment with the book shown above. Next I will make a blank journal and a poetry book using the other two pieces of chinese silk.

book cloth drying on glass on the deck
book cloth drying on glass on the deck
Cutting book cloth from the glass
Cutting book cloth from the glass
My favourite piece

My favourite piece

Now I am rummaging, looking for other suitable fabric to make more book cloth. I will post the results when I’m done. Thanks for the great information Canberra Bookbinders!


2 comments on “Making book cloth

  1. Alan
    January 10, 2014

    Looks good Marama. Happy New Year :)

  2. greengaze
    January 11, 2014

    How beautiful…. come and have a look through my fabric stash, might be just the thing waiting for you. xo

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This entry was posted on January 10, 2014 by in Art, Bookmaking, Journals, My Workshops, Poetry and tagged , , .

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