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The Legacy Press



Books about the Printing, Paper, and Bookbinding Arts

European Hand Papermaking: Traditions, Tools, and Techniques


Timothy D. Barrett

In this important and long-awaited book, Timothy Barrett, internationally known authority in hand papermaking and Director of the University of Iowa Center for the Book, offers the first comprehensive “how-to” book about traditional European hand papermaking since Dard Hunter’s renowned reference, Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft.

This book, which includes an appendix on mould and deckle construction by Timothy Moore, is aimed at a variety of audiences: artisans and craftspeople wishing to make paper or to manufacture papermaking tools and equipment, paper and book conservators seeking detailed information about paper-production techniques, and other readers with a desire to understand the intricacies of the craft. European Hand Papermaking is the companion volume to Barrett’s Japanese Papermaking – Traditions, Tools and Techniques.

Note: The first edition (hardcover), which included three paper specimens, is out-of-print; the 2nd edition (softcover) does not include paper specimens.

2nd ed., 2nd printing (2021)


352 pages   •   394 illustrations   •   softcover


10 x 7 in.   •   $55.00


ISBN: 9781940965130


To purchase,

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Addendum to 1st ed. and 2nd ed., 1st printing


(This Addendum appears in the 2nd ed., 2nd printing on p. 331.)


Alternative to Fermentation

As mentioned on p. 126, fermentation can sometimes result in a dark gray or black mold that leaves our finished 50/50 hemp/cotton paper with a slight grayish off-white cast (even after cooking in lime and extended washing during beating), rather than the more desirable warm off-white.  According to al-Muʿizz Ibn Bādīs (d. 1062), traditional Islamic world papermakers employed lime pretreatments rather than fermentation before beating:


the flax is soaked in quick-lime, rubbed with the hands, and spread out in the sun to dry. It is then returned to fresh quicklime. This is repeated a number of times. Then it is washed free of the quicklime many times…1


Indo-Islamic and Central Asian papermaking researchers Radha Pandey and Johan Solberg have been experimenting with extended lime-water soaks in lieu of fermentation.2  Following their lead, I soak flock-cut fiber in a 0.4% calcium hydroxide solution, about 6% fiber on solution, with mixing once a week, for 6–8 weeks. This type of treatment was sometimes referred to as a “cold cook” in the industry. The more concentrated lime solution minimizes any fermentation action. I end the process with a 2–3 hour traditional cook, as described on p. 62, in a fresh 0.4% calcium hydroxide solution. The results are similar to those achieved with fermentation: reduced beating time and enhanced formation quality, compared to working with raw fiber.  The impact on the stability of paper made from fermented and cooked vs. cold lime solution-soaked and cooked fibers has not been investigated.


1 Levey, Martin. "Mediaeval Arabic Bookmaking and Its Relation to Early Chemistry and Pharmacology." Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, n.s., 52, no. 4 (1962): 1–79; <>; see p. 10.  For more on early Arab/Islamic-world papers, also see Kropf, Evyn and Cathleen A. Baker, “A Conservative Tradition? Arab Papers of the 12th –17th Centuries from the Islamic Manuscripts Collection at the University of Michigan,” Journal of Islamic Manuscripts 4, no. 1 (2103): 1–48.

2 Personal communication with the author.