• noun material manufactured in thin sheets from the pulp of wood or other fibrous substances, used for writing or printing on or as wrapping material.
— ORIGIN Old French papir, from Latin papyrus ‘paper-reed’
Papermaking is an ancient craft, thought to have developed in China during the 2nd century AD. It differed in both creation and durability from the writing material that had been in use prior to its invention, such as papyrus (made from the beaten strips of the Papyrus plant), parchment (made from processed animal skin) or tablets of wood, slate, clay etc.
Paper is made from the pulp of cellulose fibres, such as cotton, hemp, rags, wood and plants. The fibres are captured, shaped and drained through a mould and deckle, then dried into sheets.
The different materials, methods and moulds used in papermaking produce paper suitable for the intended use, such as a writing or painting surface.
Craft Scotland represent more than 100 Scottish craft makers working with paper today - from wallpaper and decor to stationery and books.
• noun a person skilled in the craft of binding books.
• noun a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers. 2 a bound set of blank sheets for writing in: an exercise book.
— ORIGIN Old English bōc, "to grant by charter"
Early bookbinding techniques involved binding manuscripts together between hard surfaces, such as wood, to protect the written material within. Techniques evolved to include stitching materials together and utilising paper, but for hundreds of years, the craft of bookbinding was often the domain of religious orders. The invention of the printing press and changes in papermaking revolutionised the industry, but the craft of bookbinding still owes much to its history.
Contemporary bookbinders use materials such as leather, paper and textiles as covers, and often combine historic practices with contemporary sensibilities.
Becoming a skilled bookbinder can take years of learning and practice, and materials can often be expensive, but a love of the craft ensures that there are still talented makers creating unique, beautiful hand bound books in Scotland.
Read a profile on Laura West from the Isle of Skye.