Tearing Down Paper for Book Binding—Stacks of Gutenberg

July 5, 2017
I didn’t have lights out to get great shots, but this shows the full sheet and the two different sizes I got for pages from about 20 of the sheets. It best shows the creamy color of the paper.

Last year I got the news from Wet Paint that Hahnemühle was discontinuing Gutenberg. It’s one of my favorite papers for binding into art journals. It comes in 3 weights that all take wet media, all work great with gouache, and the thickest weight is also a great support for collage. I happen to love the slight pebbly texture and the creamy color full of fiber flecks.

If you’re a long-time reader of my blog you know however that I always remind everyone that papers come and go.

I did what any sensible person would have done. I went to Wet Paint and bought 50 sheets of the paper. It was within my paper budget (but that was the limit).

I brought the paper home to tear down for books, but life intervened—some heavy duty work-related technical realities and some family illnesses.

This shot shows all the signatures I tore down from all of the sheets, including the long strips that were waste from one tear—but which can be further torn and folded to make mini books out of small signatures like the one resting on top of the strips. (The paper looks too white here.)

Earlier this spring I was able to tear all the paper down. I was able to do this because I’ve been faithfully doing all my physical therapy exercises for my shoulder, and because my massage therapist David Wicklund has been working diligently to keep all my muscles working together.

You cannot imagine how trepidatious I was about tearing down those 50 sheets of paper. But I decided it simply had to be tried. I began two days before an appointment with David so that if things went badly we could get right on it.

But things went great. I did it in two days with several breaks. I ended up with enough signatures for three different sizes of books, including a large sketchbook that’s about 8 x 11 inches. (It’s always great when you have a really large sheet like this to tear for large sketchbooks because the waste you have leftover is usually usable for another size of book.)

I look forward to binding all these books AFTER the Minnesota State Fair. Right now everything I’m doing in my spare time is about getting ready for that event—sketching live animals, testing pigments, making paper choices and media choices, etc. I’ll bind these after that marathon sketching event.

If this is a paper that you have loved working on in the past, please note that several vendors still have stocks of this paper. (They might even give you a discount? You can always ask.) Through past binding students I’ve learned that this paper is called “Medieval Laid” in the UK.

Want To Learn To Bind Your Own Books?

If you’re interested in binding your own books please check out the upcoming Simple Round Back Spine Class that begins July 15, 2017. There is still time to register. That link also includes a link to a downloadable PDF supply list.

I’ll be in class during the first 30 days and am encouraging students to make 2 or more books during that time. You’ll be able to post your books and get feedback from me. It’s a thorough class, with 30 videos documenting every step. And we talk about how to use a sheet of paper efficiently! How great is that?!

If you can’t squeeze it in, don’t worry, I’m hoping to offer it again next year. And I’m working on a couple other binding classes for different structures—I hope to have one done by the end of this year. So watch the blog for updates!





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    • Joan
    • July 6, 2017

    Hi Roz-

    Sorry to put this here, but I can’t find a contact email to let you know about site issues…I left a comment on another post about the sketch not opening up to a larger size, but instead the link looks to be the page link of the page I’m on, which then just opens up again in a new tab or window when I click on the sketch. It’s happening here too. Maybe it’s a piece of code that got dropped from your page template?

    Again, I’m on an iPad Pro, but running the latest version of the iOS and Safari, if that matters. I love your line and I’m always wanting to examine your pieces larger. Thanks for sharing so much!

    1. Reply

      Thanks Joan. Short version (I’ve posted about this somewhere else but I just got back from a walk in 93 degrees and can’t remember where): When I migrated the blog from Typepad the 2,100 plus posts from before January 15, 2017 (or so, when it was migrated) won’t meld with WordPress. All 4,000 plus images would have to be re-input manually and relinked. No plans to do this any time soon as life is too short and family emergencies too pressing. Thanks for understanding. I appreciate you letting me know. I’m sure there are some bugs that I’d actually be able to fix.

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