Category: Journals

Paste Paper

I’ve been tackling one of the last skills I’ve yet to learn in the book making process: paste.

My first attempt at paste papers

Wheat paste is easily made from… well- wheat, and water… and sometimes a little salt.

You can apply the same staying power that creates that rock hard wet flour crust on your baking dishes when they’re left in the sink a little too long for a fraction of the cost of glue.

Said paste my also be combined with paint and dies to create a strong, two tone design. Such paper was frequently used as a cheaper easier substitute for marbling end papers (the inside papers attached to the hardcover cardboard of the book).

Wheat paste. Super strong, easy to work with, and very forgiving.

This cheaper easier process was especially common for the few printers operating in the American Colonies before the 19th century, as well as for printers after the founding of the republic. Wheat as well as inks and dyes were much more common and less expensive than the handful of relatively specialized chemicals necessary along with larger amounts of more variations of paint necessary to create marbled papers.


This made paste papers attractive to many colonial printers, though their origins are in France, Germany and Italy in the late 1600’s. Many examples from Pennsylvania exist, but they can be found in other printings through the 18th and 19th century. The University of Washington has an excellent page with the history, explanations and many examples of both marble and paste paper.

Wood block image by the Henkel press, New Market VA c. 1800

Significant Influences…

James Moore- 18th Century Bibles

Paul McClintock- From Common Hands

Richard Norman- Eden Workshops

The Colonial Williamsburg Printer and Bookbinder’s Shop (special thanks to Don)

Jeff Peachy- Bookbinder, toolmaker, artist and author

Allen Barton- Priest, Bookbinder, Art Historian, Liturgiologist 

Laurent Coulet

Michael Pyron- Restoration Book Binder

About 1,000 rare book traders on social media and discovered via Google searches

Virginia Antiquarian Booksellers Association (book fair)


Over the past few years there have been so many conversations; I’ve read so many books and articles and looked at so many fine examples of books. These are just a few of the more significant influences on my studies so far.