Paper Pleasures Part 2

The delights of pattern and decorated papers! Traditionally used in bookbinding as endpapers or for covering, they range from very traditional marbled and paste papers to those designed by artists such as Enid Marx and Edward Bawden for the Curwen Press, the beautiful Japanese Chiyogami papers, and many more. Here are my thoughts on some favourites:

Marbling paper is a wonderful process with a rich history. I learned the technique while at bookbinding school, and still use some of the papers I made then. Rather than using them for a whole cover or endpaper, I like to use a small square set into the front cover of a book- a small area of intense pattern. 

Sketchbook with marbled paper square
Watercolour Sketchbook with Marbled Paper Square

The exquisitely beautiful Japanese Chiyogami papers are a treat to use. I love them on the Chiyogami Concertina Watercolour Sketchbook and the Linen Concertina Watercolour Sketchbook with Chiyogami, when the oriental book form seems very appropriate. The lovely designs are hand screen printed and inspired by Japanese textiles and kimono designs, with symbolic motifs such as bamboo for flexibility, cranes for long life and blossoms for beauty and longevity.

chiyogami concertina watercolour sketchbooks

Chiyogami Concertina Watercolour Sketchbooks


Italy has a rich tradition of woodblock printed decorative papers, many based on historical designs from the Renaissance. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Venice or Florence, look out for the small, family-run workshops that still produce these beautiful papers today. 

Square Watercolour Sketchbook


The Curwen Press was a pioneer in the design revolution of British printing in the early to mid 20th Century, commissioning artists and designers such as Enid Marx, Paul Nash, Diana Wilbraham and Edward Bawden to create decorative papers with repeating patterns for books. These designs are some of my favourite pattern papers to use.

hand made sketchbook with Enid Marx pattern paper

Enid Marx Sketchbooks


Paste papers are one of the earliest methods of decorating paper, and can be found on bindings from as early as the late 16th Century. Bookbinders would use up their leftover bookbinding paste by adding pigment to it and brushing it out on paper to make patterns. They would sometimes then use a tools to draw or comb designs in the paper before letting it dry, it could then be used for endpapers or covers. It is still made in exactly the same way today, and is a lovely simple way to make your own decorative paper.

paste paper



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