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Papers, Floppy Backs [sent, not in archive]
Now that Book_Arts-L is coming through again I went to the Palimpsest WWW
site (which is great!) and sorted through the dates not included in the
digests sent by pdv. I noticed that the following note, which I sent to the
list on Jan. 29, was not in the archive. If anyone did receive it, my
apologies for duplication. As this was not in the digest, I know that those
involved in the server problem didn't get it.
I just received the digests of Jan.4-26 from pdv, so here are
some thoughts about what I've seen:
On Papers for Laser Printers (color, b&w):
When I was adjunct faculty at the London College of Printing
(during my tenure as US/UK Bicentennial Fellow, 1978-79), I did
a lot of experiments with their color Xerox machine,
particularly with various handmade papers. I still have many of
these, including Kodak color bars and grey scales on Whatman
papers from the 50's and 60's. It's only been 15 years, but
they have retained their color very well. They have been out of
the light in a file cabinet. One problem in making any
predictions is that the manufacturers may be changing the
composition of their toners without notice.
My understanding of the Canon 500 series of color copiers is
not that silicone is in the toner, but that the sheet is coated
with silicone after heat fusing. I produced an edition of 50
copies of a miniature book (actually it's 3 3/16" including the
squares of the boards) a few years ago of 32 studies for
bookbinding designs (same size as the original watercolors) on
a Canon 500. You couldn't print on both sides, so I had to
laminate them back to back on a light table. Flour paste worked
fine, but there were problems that had to be worked out because
the silicone coated side didn't expand like the pasted side.
Today I would use Gudi. I enlarged the designs for use on the
covers, which are flat back 1/4 leather case bindings. I made
the cases, put masking tape over the leather, and sprayed the
covers with 5-15 coats of clear automotive lacquer. That seemed
to bite into the silicone. I love auto lacquer, and have done
many bindings with lacquer and gold leaf. It's made to stand up
to continual exposure to direct sun, snow, etc. for years, and
if it gets dirty it's easily cleaned with household products. I
do it outdoors with an organic vapor gas mask.
Mohawk makes quite a few papers which work well with color
lasers. I believe it was their Poseidon which gave rich color
on a smooth finish, and is available 11 x 17 with the grain
running either way (very important if you're going to bind it
and have a layout that requires one or the other in order to
have the grain parallel to the spine). Superfine comes in a
variety of finishes. Eggshell gives a more printlike
appearance. It depends on the effect you want. A toothier paper
dulls out the image a bit, but I prefer it for many purposes
because the image appears to be more "in" than "on" the
surface. Right now I'm doing an edition of Alfonso Ossorio's
last drawings, which were done in colored marker in spiral
bound sketchbooks, on the new Xerox color printer, and the
results are astounding on Permalife. It's a Center for Book
Arts publication, and the Ossorio Estate is lending the
original drawings to put on the Xerox. It's much better than
4-color printing from transparencies. It looks like original
When I published Rose Slivka's "Dreaming the Caves" with laser
prints from watercolors by Elaine de Kooning I used Lana Royal
Wove. People (inclucing collectors and curators) thought they
were lithographs. It's important how you set the machine.
Contrast and sharpness settings are critical. I don't try to
reproduce the "original" image I'm using as a master, but go
for a print which has a lot of life as an original print. On
these I "granulated" the image slightly to give it that
lithographic look. On the new Xerox machine there is a "Map"
setting which recognizes lines (like an OCR program) and makes
them print darker. It's great for art with outlines on the
image, or ink and watercolors, because you can hold light
delicate colors and still have the outline solid. Since 1989
I've preferred ink jet to laser. I still don't trust those
laser images (that are heat fused electrostatically deposited
toner) not to flake off sooner or later. The ink jet stains the
fiber of the paper, I started using it for my memoir, "Minsky
in Bed," which is in the style of the incunabula, with text and
commentary in different types and historiated, illuminated,
inhabited initial letters. I compose in Ventura, which gives
1/1000th inch or 1/100th point control of typography, draw in
CorelDraw, and print in black ink, formerly on a Canon BJ 130
and now on an Epson Stylus 1000. Both these printers take
sheets 16 1/2" by any length. I then work in on the initial
letters with watercolor and gold leaf. It's sort of computer
incunabula, like Gutenberg took the new technology (movable
type) and combined it with the old. I developed my own
proprietary handmade paper at Dieu Donne Papermill that gives a
rich, crisp image on thick, rough paper.
I've done several other books by this process: Tom Phillips'
"Where Are They Now? (The Class of 47)" with text by Heather
McHugh; Jonathan Williams' "Anathema Maranatha" with pictures
by Bill Anthony; the text of the Rose Slivka book described
above (which is 15" x 17"-- the printer will take a sheet 35"
long, no problem), and "Animal Magnetism," a 9" x 12"
children's book I finished last year. I also took the images
from this book, printed them larger on canvas, colored them
with oils and exhibited them at Guild Hall Museum. The ink jet
on a computer offers amazing possibilities that leaves the
laser way behind. The exciting new thing is the 720 dpi Epson
color inkjet under $500. It only takes 8 1/2" paper, but I
talked with the engineers at Epson and they're developing a
wide carriage version. Oh boy!
_ _ _ _
On Floppy Back Bindings:
When I want to sew on raised cords, have fairly stiff paper,
and don't want the leather on the spine to go concave (to
preserve tooling, keep the leather from cracking if it dries
out, etc.), I make a segmented hollow back and put a segment
between each cord. I often sew big books on heavy double cords.
I put pva on the cords, and use flour paste on the leather.
The paste sticks to the paper tube but not to the pva. The
leather shapes to the cord and doesn't stick to it, and comes
off the spine when the book is opened like a hollow back
binding. This does not give a "floppy" back. It retains its
convex shape, which I find better for preserving tooling. In a
couple of hundred years if it needs rehinging it should slice
off easily and be reapplied simply.
Sometimes I take it further, if I want to sew on double raised
cords and have a smooth spine. I don't like kerf sewing
(sawn-in grooves), so I put a segmented hollow tube on the
spine, build it up to the height of the cords, and connect a
top layer of paper to the tube that is the height of the spine
(including endbands, of course), covering the cords. The spine
is then perfectly smooth, but the book opens beautifully, with
that nice arch supported sewing gives it.
I've occasionally done that and then decided I didn't want a
smooth spine after all, and added things to the surface of the
tube (cords, leather or paperboard shapes, raised lettering,
etc.), to create a dimensional spine.