These days most of us purchase our book binding supplies online and while online shopping is convenient and offers us a lot of choice, it has a few problems:
Paper and book cloth are such tactile materials that it’s hard to order them without ‘touching’ them first. Words can describe a piece of paper, but there’s nothing feeling it between your fingers to get the sense of its weight and finish.
Also, we can’t reply on our computer screens to convey colors correctly, and if you’re trying to choose a piece of book cloth for a particular project, you need to see it in real life. Finally, while a single sheet of book cloth or paper isn’t necessarily expensive, there are often minimum order amounts to fulfill and shipping costs can add up quickly.
One way to avoid costly mistakes and disappointment is by ordering sample or swatch books from different suppliers and manufacturers. I’ve started a list of some that I know and use in the USA but feel free to add more in the comments below. I’ll continue to grow the list.
Colophon Book Arts offers a nice sample booklet with samples of Rohalbleinen, Dubletta, Duo and Brillianta book cloths. Hollanders has nine different book cloth sample books, including imitation suede and leather, and silk moire
Colophon Book Arts has three thread sample books, one for their linen thread, one for Londonderry thread and if you make headbands, a sample card of Trebizond Threads. Royalwood Ltd has a good selection of 2, 3, 4, 7 and 12 ply linen thread in many different colors and offers a comprehensive swatch card. I use the 3 and 4 ply thread when making leather journals.
Mohawk has a good selection of swatch books and I particularly like their Superfine papers. Talas offers a comprehensive selection of paper samples that include some lovely marbled papers and Legion Paper also has a list of sample packs to choose from.
Given the high cost of leather, the sample books from Hollanders and Talas are very valuable. You can order a custom selection of leather samples from Pergamena who allow you to select the color, thickness and finish of the leather you’re looking for.
If you’re interested in the papers I use on a regular basis, enter your email below to receive the pdf. Thanks go to Sharon from Manitoulin Island in Ontario for inspiring this blog post.