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Handmade Leather Journals and Sketchbooks | Online Bookbinding Tutorials and Classes | Make your own journal
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Bookbinding 101: Decorative Paper

There are thousands of options for using decorative paper in your handmade books. Links at the bottom of this post are places where the papers discussed below can be found. Following are seven short HD videos showing several popular types of bookbinding papers. Although video isn't quite the same as holding a paper in hand, we think it actually does a decent job of giving a sense of what a paper is like, much better than a still photo can do.

We'll be going over papers from around the world (Thailand, India, Nepal, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, France and the U.S.)

The papers we will be showing you are made with projects like bookbinding in mind. Most of them are acid free, bend and fold and wear well, and may have other qualities that make them great for bookbinding.

First, a few words about scrapbook paper:

Scrapbook paper is meant to be cut, stamped, written on and glued onto. This type of paper is usually not made to be folded over hardcover books. And that's a key point. No fold well, no put on book. Most scrapbook papers have a core in it that is white, which is printed on with a decorative print, and the kind of inks used for the print will usually quickly wear off the surface of the scrapbook paper when glued onto a book, especially along the edges of the book. It was made to sit under plastic sheets with photos on top of it and to be handled carefully, not to be the protective cover of a book. There are some scrapbook papers that might do well, but in our limited experience with them they are few. If it's a paper you are absolutely in love with, you may wish to test it and see how well it folds and wears before putting it on a book. Otherwise, we'd suggest keeping these types of papers for endsheets if used in a way that doesn't need to be folded (i.e. covering just the inside of a coptic stitch cover).

Viewing tip: for the highest detail, view the following videos full screen and choose 1080p (these options are available in the lower right of each video once it starts playing).

Part 1: Unryu and papers from Thailand:

Part 2: Lokta paper from Nepal:

Part 3: Papers from India

Part 4: Japanese Papers

Part 5: Italian Papers

Part 6: Marbled Paper

Part 7: Bring on the rest!