A Guide to Making Decorated Papers

by Anne Chambers

Thames and Hudson, 1989

readability rating
4 star readability rating Good instructions on paper decoration, mostly doable in short timespans and at home.
content rating
4 star content rating A useful introduction to one of bookbinding's related arts.

This was the generous gift of my father, who originally bought it for himself. I had browsed but not used it when he gave it to me, fearing that I would get sucked into the absorbing world of paper decoration rather than sticking to binding. (I know of many binders who have wandered into paper marbling and never come back.)

Then I did a Society of Bookbinders day workshop on paste paper decoration and suminigashi (Japanese marbeling). Having read this book, I was already au fait with the theory of paste paper work. I was much more satisfied with my results because of it, and have since done both paste paper and suminigashi at home as well.

The Good Stuff
The techniques in this book are very much aimed at the "kitchen table" craftsman rather than someone with deep pockets and a large workshop. She advises on how to keep the work from turning into an enormous mess, for instance, and uses ingredients that are generally available.
Could Do Better
I would have liked to have seen more on the history of the paper decoration techniques described. There are some references to the use of paste paper in the introduction, but any of the descriptions are too general to nail them down to specific eras or countries.
Best Bit
The color photos of papers decorated with various techniques are beautiful and inspiring. Although I find the profiles of "real" artists and samples of their work interesting, it is the more ordinary illustrations of the results of the techniques described that were the most worthwhile.