Pulp Infilling for Boards

As a continuation of the Bible project, I’m going to dedicate a post specifically to preparing and using paper pulp for infilling the loose board, along the joint edge. At the end there’s a list of suppliers.

Board edge before

Board edge before

First, I removed all the cruddy adhesive from along the joint, without the addition of any moisture – this meant that small bits of the board came away too, and also I made sure that I removed any bits that were weakly attached.

Then I split the board, not much – only by about 5-7mm, and inserted pieces of thick Hahnemuhle paper (180gsm). Several pieces were easier to handle than one strip. Theses were adhered into the split with a thick and dry WSP, and pressed lightly between thin sheets of plastazote (as we have no felts in the studio). This will be used to support the pulp.

Split board with Hahnemuhle.

Split board with Hahnemuhle.

Then – to prepare the pulp. We’ve got a few sheets of paper pulp in the studio which Lizzie got when she went on one of Alan Buchanan’s courses, however, I’ve found some that’s supplied to be used for leaf-casting from PEL.

Paper Pulp Sheet

Paper Pulp Sheet

Tear this up into small pieces and soak for about 20mins in water, then drain and replace water with thinned paste, and then leave to soak for another 20mins, the pieces will have swelled, and now be saturated with paste.

Torn pieces in water.

Torn pieces in water.

Torn pieces in thin paste.

Torn pieces in thin paste.

Prime the areas to be filled with a smooth WSP (un-thinned) and then squeeze out the excess moisture from small amount of pulp at a time. I like to take some out and leave in a tea strainer over the main tray – then use this to get rid of any excess water/paste. Then work small amounts along the edge of the board, making sure to press into the contours, and smush it together as much as possible, don’t worry about going outside your guide lines, as it can all be trimmed and sanded later. Smooth down the pulp infill with a finger, squidge down some blotter (over holytex) to remove some excess moisture, and leave to dry, possibly for a day and night (this one is still damp the next morning) . The pulp will shrink, and this process may need to be repeated a few times before there’s enough to work with.

First infill - still very very wet.

First infill – still very very wet.

Once you’re happy that there’s enough pulp (it may be a good idea to put too much on just in case), and that it’s completely dry you can start shaping it.

Trim back the paper support and the infill if necessary, then, using fine grit sand paper to smooth out the lumps and bumps – however, since the pulp is made of pieces of paper, rather than actual mush, the infill itself will turn out a bit lumpy. Sand down the board edge so it’s straight, and round the corners and edges making sure the faces and edges are even and as smooth as possible.

Infill after 2 layers of pulp, trimming, sanding and shaping.

Infill after 2 layers of pulp, trimming, sanding and shaping.

I would then recommend that the infill was covered with a toned piece of Japanese paper to blend it into the board – and this will even out the lumpy nature of the pulp a bit further. I had a piece of 25gsm that had been toned (with acrylic inks) for a previous project that was perfect – so I used this.


and Voila! Infill is done – more pictures to follow when I come to reattach it, once we’ve figured out how!

Any questions or comments welcomed, and I’ll do my best to answer you.

Pulped Paper – https://www.preservationequipment.com/Store/Products/Conservation-Materials/Paper-$4-Board/Paper-Pulp

One thought on “Pulp Infilling for Boards

  1. sagoontuesdays

    Thanks for a great post, Liz. The more I read about different infill techniques, the more little differences I enjoy trying out in my own repair work. Using several pieces of bracing board/card is the gem from your post – so logical and yet I hadn’t done that before.
    I get your posts updated on Feedly and enjoy going back through old ones too.

    Sonya Mac. Sago on Tuesdays bindery 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s