Sep 272010

Book cloth making time! I first did a few sheets following the directions I learned a long time ago from a book, using rice starch paste. Then I experimented a bit.

[Please be patient and try not to get confused, since I took pictures at various times when I was doing different cloths. We might jump around from florals to squirrels without notice.]

First, you need a smooth flat surface to work on. I’ve saved my old worn-out cutting mats and use the back sides of those. Spritz the cloth with water–get it good and damp. Smooth it out with the right side of the fabric facing down:

On a piece of scrap paper (here, newsprint), brush an even layer of paste onto the backing paper, which should be just a bit larger than your piece of cloth. Always brush from the center out to the edges and be sure not to miss any spots. I’m using basic Japanese kozo:
Smooth backing paper, paste side down, over the fabric:
Using a dry brush helps smooth the paper:
As does using a rolled up towel to tamp down the paper onto the fabric. This also, especially, helps create a better bond between fabric and paper:
I also use another method to smooth down the paper onto the fabric, but almost hesitate mentioning it. This could potentially stretch your fabric and push too much glue onto the side of the fabric you don’t want it on. That said, carefully using a roller (going, as you always should, from center outward towards the edges) will give you incredibly smooth and well-bonded book cloth (for some fabrics, you might not even want it that smooth):
The original method I was taught was that one should now carefully turn and smooth the book cloth over onto a new, clean surface, right-side up, then paste around the edges to hold it down flat as it dries:
From recent experience, I can report that this is also an excellent way to drop your wet, newly-made cloth and ruin it. (I did not take a pic for posterity.)
So what I started to do was just leave the cloths in place–don’t 
touch!–right-side down to dry, without an extra turning step. (Do you know why we are supposed to turn over the cloth? Does not turning increase the likelihood of paste getting onto the side of the fabric you don’t want it on?) Regardless, I’ve found that, at least for the dropping-prone, the leave it alone method works:
When dry, peel it off, trim off the extra paper edging and voilà–book cloth: