Re: from Jake Benson
- Hi Jake (or is it Iris? - it is confusing to work out who actually
sent the reply to my question) I am very happy to get such a long
and erudite answer to my questions. The information is exactly what
I have been searching for - thanks a million. It will take me days
to absorb all the info, and then many more days to try it out! As for
my market, I am on a search to find out where I am actually going.
Up until now I have sold mostly A4 papers for craft, wedding
invitation backings, and made cards, boxes, writing paper etc. to
sell at craft markets, and lately I have sold A2 sheets to
bookbinders for endsheets. My preference is to make and hopefully
sell only marbled paper, not actually make items from it myself - so
fiddly and time-consuming! So I am working hard at learning every
aspect of the craft, and hoping to get to the "art" level
eventually. It has been quite inspirational to read the questions
and answers in this website, and exciting to get replies to my own
questions. As we say in Australia "good on yer, mate" Best
regards, Joan Ajala
--- In Marbling@y..., irisnevins
> > I have tried a number of handmade papers of
> different weights, some
> > machine-made "handmade", others Indian pure
> cotton, traditionally
> > handmade. When marbled with watercolour
> paints, all of these papers
> > form bubbles. The only partial success has
> occurred when Suminagashi,
> > with Buko Undo and Chinese black inks are used,
> and when Spanish
> > marbling technique is used. I have tried soaking
> the papers in hot
> > water before aluming, wet them with methylated
> apirits,and with
> > diluted "Morning Fresh" washing up detergent - all
> of these to
> > release the bubbles and allow the paper to be
> uniformly dampened.
> Any ideas? Thanks for all the feedback on
> finishing papers. I use
> > Colophon watercolor paints, and find that some of
> the colour is
> > removed if the papers are wet. I want my
> customers to get papers that
> > will stand up to some use and not be easily
> damaged ( for example,
> > when used to cover books) That is why I am
> asking questions about
> > finishes. Joan Ajala
> Sorry i haven't responded earlier, as my computer
> has been down with some bugs.
> As far as coating and polishing goes:
> It really depends on what you want to do with your
> If you wish to use them as a cover for bookbinding, I
> recommend coating the papers.
> It helps to increase durability, and prevent surface
> abrasion in particular.
> An acrylic spray is useul as far as preventing
> smudging of the pigement. Even with the use of
> alum, some pigements are inherently friable, that is
> Examples of this are pigments like Ultramarine and
> carbon black, and mica particles. They are
> chemically very "flat", and therefore slide over each
> other. That's why graphite makes an excellent
> lubricant. An additional amount of binder can help
> prevent this. Irirs is quite right about the toxicity of the
> solvents used in these sprays- use outside with
> plaenty of ventilation- running a fan BEHIND you
> whole doing it will help improve the circulation.
> I would adivse obtaining a respirator if you plan to do
> this regularly. you should get it fit tested to your face
> by someone who is certified to do this. The money
> spent on a better respirator is worth it: it will be more
> comfortable, and will ensure that you are breathing
> NONE of the fumes.
> I have tried using the new Krylon "Low Odor" spray,
> made with primarily Isopropanol, but have been
> unhappy with the wierd, thick application that results.
> It is also made witha type of latex, so it will not age
> very well.
> If you really want a surface that is abrasion resistant
> though, you meed to apply a real coating.
> Traditionally this was done using hide glue and
> alum. this mixture has been knwon since ancient
> times, and was probably developed in China, where
> it is still used as a kind of waterproofing for paper.
> the Japanese refer to it as "Dosa".
> another variation is the mixture of egg white
> (albumin) and alum, used in the Islamic world. It is
> a type of what is called "ahar" in Persian , and "aher"
> in Modern Turkish.
> Ahar really is a wide range of substances used to
> help prepare the surface of paper. They often used
> starches, gums, and proteinaceous substances like
> the hide glue, parchement size (a purer form of hide
> glue), and albumin.
> The alum added to the protein hardens it chemically,
> and traditionally it was left to age for a year, during
> which time it would cross link chemically, forming a
> very hard and waterproof surface.
> This was developped by Islamic Scribes who used a
> reed pen instead of brush for writing. The pen would
> gracefully glide over the surface. It would also allow
> for corrections to be made- a cottom swab is
> dampened with saliva, applied to the calligraphy,
> and then removed, and then corrections made.
> Hide Glue (also gelatin) and alum was commonly
> used by marbled paper manufacturers in Europe as
> well. This is someties referred to as "external
> sizing". It was actually routinely dome to almonst all
> paper after the 17th century.
> After wards, a coating of beeswax was applied and
> then the paper was burnished with an agate or flint.
> You can see this depicted in the famous engraving
> from the "Encyclpedie Diderot et d'Alembert", which
> shows marblers at various stages of the process.
> They used in that instance a very large burnisher,
> mounted into a ceiling joist, which probably added
> greater pressure to the burnisher, rather than using
> your hadn, shoulders, and back.
> Wax helps to further seal the paper, and guard
> against surface abrasion.
> It is interesting to note, that while most Turkish
> marblers don't alum their paper prior to marbling, in
> fact, they didn't know that a healthy amount was
> already in the paper, added by the manufacturer.
> Most papers used in Turkey from about the late 16th
> century and onwards were imported form Europe.
> another aspect that remains unexplored is to what
> degreee that domestic paper production was
> modelled after European standards. In the 19th
> century at the Hamidiye mills in Beykoz, this was
> probably a very high probability.
> In the 19th century, the formula was switched to
> alum combined with rosin, a by product of wood
> pulp, which was used to make paper at that time.
> This combination of wood pulp for the cellulose, and
> a high concentration of aluma dn arosin is what
> makes so many 19th and 20th century papers so
> acidic, and brittle.
> Again, I note that most Turkish marblers used very
> cheap printing papers, which contained copious
> amounts of alum to begin with before marbling.
> Halfer also discusses how the trgacanth process
> doesn't require additional alum in his "Fortschrifte"
> Today, most paper and book conservators consider
> these substances to be acidic, and not suitable for
> materials used in conservation work.
> As a result, I researched some alternatives that
> could be used instead. I would alos note, that if you
> aren't pffering your papers to conservators, and want
> to use them for some ordinary craft purposes, there
> is really no probelm with using these techniques,
> which have been proven over time to give effective,
> albeit acidic results.
> One method is to use Methyl Cellulose. I prefer to
> use the cold water dispersabel grade, the same
> used by most marblers, but at a higher
> concentrtaion- 5%.
> after drying, I'll use "Renaissance wax", a blend of
> microcrystalline waxes. I have also previously
> mentioned "Dorland's Art Wax", which contains a
> blend of waxes and damar resin, resulting in a
> harder finish. Burnishing will certainly add to the
> polished effect. Alparslan's directions are the smae
> that I use.
> Soap is often used in place of Turkey, by
> contemporary calligraphers. They would go back
> and use a punce (fine pumice dust, I beleive) before
> commencing with the calligraphy. The pumice
> counter the wax, allowing the ink to adhere. It is
> interesting to note that much the same method was
> used in architectural drawings on "Chartex", a type of
> waxed linen. Architects would draw on this using
> "India Ink" which is a Western version of something
> very similar to the inks used by Islamic scribes-
> carbon black ina gum binder, though shellac was
> often added to the Western recipes. the Chartex was
> pounced before drawing, the same way
> calligraphers It is also mentioned in some of the old
> western manuals as well. In fact a method of adding
> "saponified wax" was developed and used in the
> 19th cnetury. I think Woolnough mentions with, also
> Halfer and Louis Kinder at the Roycroft shop as well.
> Saponified wax was made by melting palin white
> soap and beeswax together.
> The mixture cooled, then hardened, and it was
> pulverized, and added to the marbling colors.
> You can observe this in some old papers, as the
> colors will look shinier than the plain paper areas.
> The burnisher has polished the wax in color.
> In the 19th century, a calendar machine was
> developed to polish paper.
> Two lightly heated rollers were driven by a motor,
> and one person passed the papers though to the
> other side, where another person caught them, and
> then they'd repeat this until the desired polish was
> I also mentioned in a previous posting about the
> process of "gelatinizing" papers, which lent a
> super-shiny surface, and is similar to the way early
> photographic papers were made. This method was
> mentioned by Josef Hauptmann and Doeblinn in
> their manuals.
> Soap is made of an oil or tallow that has been
> treated with Caustic.
> If you use a soap, you should reme,ber that it is still
> highly water soluble, so it won't "seal" the paper the
> same way as a wax would. Also try and use the
> plainest, cleanest, fragrance and moisturizer-free
> soap- like Ivory. I admit that I have tried some
> sandalwood soap from India, which smelled lovely,
> but I wouldn't use an oily soap in conjunction with
> restoration. I'd advise staying away from it altogether
> if that is what you intend.
> So in short, you can use a fixative spray, but it will
> help smudging, not durability. It is toxic, and you
> should heed all the precautions.
> You can coat papers with an external sizing or
> glazing agent, and then enhance this witha light
> wax or soap application.
> All of the books that I have made which I have used
> this type of coating have held up very well.
> Now- the bubbling problem. I think the handmade
> papers you are using have a few problems. One is
> that the fibers may not be well beaten to begin with.
> Finely beaten fibers allow for an even distribution of
> pulp in the mold. Another factor may be that they
> haven't used enough "formation aid", or internal
> sizing to the pulp mixture. Much as external sizing
> that I mention above helps to seal the paper, an
> internal sizing helps to bind together all of the fibers.
> I have had this problem on occasion when using
> some Western handmades as well, but these are
> usually sold as "Second quality", and have obvious
> flaws- "paper maker's tears", thin areas, and
> You may find that if you lightly size your paper prior to
> aluming, that this problem is avoided.
> the bubbling occurs due to the swelling of the fiber.
> If it is not properly bound to adjacent fibers, they
> won't swell together with the rest of the sheet, and so
> it will bubble upward. Humidifying your papers
> before aluming may also hep with this, as the paper
> will be fully relaxed, and prevent sudden swelling.
> Do this in a damp (NOT WET!, just spray some water
> one lightly) blotter pack, covered with plastic. Let it
> sit for a half hour or so. Sheck and see if the paper
> has relaxed. I'd saty away from the use of mineral
> spirits, as it is toxic, and the use of fabric softener, as
> it will probably cause problems with the marbling,
> not to mention age poorly.
> One final note- Iris recalled my demonstration at the
> Marbler's Gathering at savage Mill in '95. I was
> demonstrtating the Methyl Cellulose/microcrystalline
> wax method, and my friend Mohamed Zakaria was
> demonstrating the alum/ albumin method. He uses
> a saturated solution of alum in albumin, which
> menas he tries to add as much alum to it as it will
> hold. this makes for a very hard coating. My
> conservation sense led me to experiment, and I have
> found that up to 5% by volume of alum in in the
> albumin or gelatin is adequate for my purposes. It
> all depends on what you want to do with your
> hope this illuminates the subject a little more. Let
> me know how it works out!
> Jake Benson
> Benson's Hand Bindery
> Fine Bookbinding, Conservation, and Hand Marbled
> 1319B Summerville Ave.
> Columbia S.C. 29201