Check out the information below to WIN a free package of HeatnBond iron-on adhesive for this DIY book cloth project!
Since we talked about cutting corners in our last post, I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about two book cloths and share a quick and fun DIY for making book cloth.
There are so many types of book cloth – each with their own appearance, nuances, and difficulties/advantages. Working in a bindery that made both books and restaurant menus, I have honestly seen the gamut of cloths. Some are very thick, some very thin, some look like plucked ostrich skin, and some look like a freshly waxed linoleum floor. The most important nuances with cloth, though, is what kind of a glue to water ratio works best, and what type of glue to use. Most of us artist book binders use an archival white glue. In a bindery, though, there are usually two common types of glue used for cover making: white glue and animal glue (sometimes referred to as hide glue). Animal glue can be easier to clean off of surfaces, including the cover itself. At our small bindery, we used animal glue for almost all of our covers. That being said, some book cloths work better with white glue than animal glue and vice versa.
(What is animal glue? Glue made from broken down animal connective tissue. It takes a very high and constant heat to become workable but creates a well-crafted and flexible cover.)
Check out the two book cloths in the opening image: on the right is a blue Arrestox cloth, which feels like it has a smooth coating but still has a linen appearance but lacks the same texture. On the left is an orange linen paper-backed book cloth.
Because of the way Arrestox is produced with a coated front and back, it is easier to make covers with it using animal glue. The tackiness of animal glue allows the cloth to adhere quickly to the board, despite having a slippery coating. This cloth can be less than ideal for white glue since the white glue creates a slippery, low-tack layer. It can be done, but it might take you a lot of rubbing with your bone folder!
Now for one of my favorites. That bright orange cloth? It is a linen book cloth. As you can see from this image, instead of coating the front and back like they did in the Arrestox, which dulls the texture of the cloth and gives a more slippery feeling, this cloth was given a paper backing. I think it looks really beautiful because of the linen's woven appearance and its fabric feel. Also, book cloths with paper backings are better adhered with white glue, meaning I can use it at home on my personal worktable!
Now for the fun part! There is a quick DIY "hack" to make your own book cloth like the orange linen, using any fabric or pattern you want! (Note, I was not the lucky creator of this trick!)
How do you make your own book cloth? You will need your favorite fabric, an iron-on adhesive like HeatnBond®, tissue paper, and an iron. On your work surface, flip your chosen fabric upside down, so the back of your cloth is facing up. Follow the instructions to iron/adhere the HeatnBond to the back of your fabric. Once cooled, remove the paper backing from the HeatnBond. Lay tissue paper over the adhesive and iron the tissue paper to activate the adhesive and fuse the book cloth. Trim any edges that are not fully fused and make a unique, customized book!
Enter to WIN a free roll of HeatnBond® UltraHold Iron-on Adhesive! That means this project is EVEN EASIER! I am so excited about HeatnBond's offer and even more excited that one of our readers could win!
What do you have to do to enter? Leave a message on this post telling me why you love handmade books by Tuesday at 9pm! On Wednesday a lucky reader will be chosen at random, making their bookbinding work bench even more awesome!
What do you use on your covers? Book cloth, paper, or something else entirely?