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Paste Paper

April 30, 2012

Dating back to the eighteenth century, paste paper was used in bookbinding as an artful endpaper embellishment. Endpapers typically depicted a richly muted marbling effect. They were hand painted and one of a kind, making each book within a series a unique and coveted treasure.

Today, the majority of endpapers in bookbinding design is created and printed by a machine – extraordinarily mass produced with acute regularity. Though the mechanical press has a digital revolution hot on it’s tail, threatening to make the art of print obsolete, it hasn’t happened yet and I don’t believe it ever will. The counter revolution, driven by the craftsman’s desire to leave a more irregular and organic imprint behind, holds the key that will protect it from complete extinction.

Revisiting this 400-year-old painting technique was a blast. It reminded me of the finger painting we did in primary school. The biggest challenge was holding back. It was so fun and accessible to do, I could have easily ended up with way more paste paper then I’d ever know what to do with. All that is needed is one part cornstarch, one part water, random household tools for the mark-making, and a pinch of acrylic paint for color. The greenest novice will be able to achieve unbelievably delicious results!

Homemade blue and and white paste paper design shown in four steps.Homemade red and white paste paper sample on black paper.Homemade green and blue colored paste paper sample.Homemade paste paper and mark-making samples.
© 2012, Dana Aubrey


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2012 7:57 pm

    In a way, the digital revolution is a challenge to create work that simply cannot be reproduced by any means. That includes certain colors and certainly textures. Paste papers are definitely a unique way to do this. Thanks for sharing!

    • May 22, 2012 1:35 pm

      It’s true – it poses a fantastic challenge. Digital makes reproduction so easy and accessible, making it both a blessing and a curse. Hopefully the ‘easy’ part doesn’t stunt creative growth.

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