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Tucson, Arizona, United States
I work as Panther Peak Bindery and am a bookbinder, conservator and instructor working outside Tucson, Arizona for individual and institutional clients across the country. I am a two term President of the Guild of Book Workers, was a Fulbright Scholar, taught at North Bennet Street School for over nine years and was the fastest in my middle school class at running up and down a flight of stairs (really!).

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Monday, December 12, 2016

drape, not drapes

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the flexibily of spines and regulating how much they throw up.  (That post can be found here.)  The other aspect of that equation in that post is the amount of drape in the paper being used in a binding.


This is an adhesive bound book where the pages don't drape.  This is a problem for adhesive bindings becuase it means that the spine has to flex a lot in order for the book to be read.  To my mind adhesive bindings need spines that barely flex in order to be durable.  But, and perhaps more importantly to the end user, it's not too much fun because it takes too much effort to hold the book open to read.


The reason for the lack of drape in the above example is because the paper in the book has the grain going the wrong direction.  One can think of grain in paper as minute toothpicks which align in one direction.  The paper will fold (or drape!) along the direction of the toothpicks but wouldn't if the page was folded against the direction of them.

So, clearly you could fold a paper with the grain in this orientation from left to right and it would go well but if you wanted to fold the top edge down to the bottom you would have some issues.

And this would be the result.  Here I am holding a group of pages with the grain running away from my hand.  Notice how the pages don't drape at all.




Here is the same paper with the grain going in the opposite direction - it's running parallel to the floor, or away from you in this picture.  You can see how the paper drapes, at least a bit.  The fact that the paper drapes even this much creates less stress on the spine when the book is opened.




Of course the weight of the paper is an issue as well.  With Bible paper it doesn't seem to matter all that much because it would drape well in either direction.  It does matter for other issues I won't go into here.




And heavy paper won't drape even with the grain, though it would fold more easily with the grain.

The problem we have as binders is that printers don't care about this, they want to print the paper in the most effecient way.  That causes many issues for binders in folding sections, rounding and backing, gluing up spines amongst others.

But that's pretty much the way the world works. When we built the house the plumber didn't care he was causing problems for the electrician. He did care when he would cause problem for the carpenter because that was me and my neighbor but if we weren't there it wouldn't have mattered to him.

We just have to learn to deal with it, and the first part of that is understanding the problem.

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