Research task: Paper and bookbinding

First, I read pages 165-180 of Alan Pipes’ chapter ‘On Press’ by downloading it from I took notes while I was reading as this helps me to digest the information more effectively.

The next stage was to compile a book of paper samples. I already had lots of offcuts and pads of paper that I could include, but I also ordered samples online from various sources. I wanted to ensure I had a big range of papers, from handmade to cardboard. I also indulged in a G. F. Smith paper sample book, which I am not about to cut up (it is far too beautiful) but it gave me lots of examples of paper samples. Below are some of the papers I already had.

Below are some photographs of the G. F. Smith sample book. It helped me to see the range and led me to explore other suppliers.

I contacted other suppliers to order some more samples. Unfortunately, as it is lockdown 2.0, I couldn’t go out anywhere and chat to anybody in person, but I tried to get as many samples as I could via the internet. This is a resource I will be returning to time and time again, so hopefully I will be able to gather more samples. There are types of card, paper, handmade paper, recycled paper and lots more. My favourites were definitely the handmade paper samples, because they are all so unique! The textures are stunning, and it seems wonderfully authentic to see the raw materials in the paper.

I then started to compile these into a book. My main objective was to allow this book to be continually added to, so instead of binding it with something permanent, like staples or thread, I used treasury tags. The cover is made from the pulp board at the back of a watercolour pad (it was a ring bound pad, so it had convenient holes punched in already) and covered with tissue paper – another sample of paper – from Paperchase.

The finished book is very satisfying! Not all the samples were uniform in size, because they all came from different places, but it gives the book a homemade feel. It is also, more importantly, a resource for me to use, and the book is definitely functional.

I intend to keep returning to this resource to experiment with the samples and to add more as I collect them. It does a good job of being a place to make choices about an appropriate paper for a particular job.

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