Paper, tools and theatres

Posted on December 11 2020

Paper, tools and theatres

As strange as it might  sound coming from a retailer, I am actually rather keen on avoiding non necessary purchases, a view coloured from a successful side interest in skip diving as a source of materials....

Anyhow, I was musing on why and what I would happily spend money on, besides nice paper and chocolate, and it led me to think about book binding, grain direction and tools: I love paper as something to put something on, or as an item in itself, but a book binder and maker I know, Shelagh McCarthy, uses paper in a way that I find quite extraordinary. 

She often works for the British Library and also teaches independently and is keen to use found items. But on some things she will not skimp either.

So what are those items you need if bending, cutting, folding paper? 

  • A good sharp steady blade. Anything else and you will shred the paper. A Stanley knife is fine as long as the blade is fresh.
  • A metal ruler. A plastic ruler cannot support a sharp blade running against it. 
  • A proper cutting mat. Cardboard would give in too much and other board or wood will not give the smooth soft run your blade needs, besides throwing fibres and splinters up. 
  • A bone folder. Using a chanced upon item (I have even tried spoons) risk marking the paper.


Now one trick of the trade if folding coated paper is to lightly run a damp paint brush along the proposed fold. This lessens the chance of cracks forming on the coating.


Here is the latest video for the British library Shelagh produced. The filming and editing is done by Tad McCarthy which the more eagle eyed upon you might recognise from the Photography Show 2019. 



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