Research Task: Paper and Bookbinding

I read chapter 6 'On Press' from Alan Pipes' Production for graphic designers and found the extra information on the technical side of printing and binding processes interesting to learn. Printing is a complicated process with many moving parts and options for designers to consider, but the more I learn about these processes, the better I will be able to

design within the limits of what is technically and economically possible for my projects.

The binding screw from the Mixam paper sample book.

I was then asked to create my own book of paper samples using my own resources. Over the years from doing small illustration projects here and there, I've collected quite a few different paper types, so I had a good set of resources ready to make my own sample book. Some of these have only ever been used once, but others have been used more frequently and were rarer in my own collection.

Inspired by how the Mixam swatches were made in exercise 2, I researched what the technical terms for this type of fixture and binding and found it referred to as a 'screw post' binding. Metal 'Binding' or 'Chicago' screws are threaded as posts through punched holes in each leaf, then capped with a small screw to hold everything in place. This makes them useful for businesses ins record books and portfolios as the screws can be easily removed to allow easy editing for documents. The Mixam swatch books only use one of these screws as a hinge that lets the paper fan out to see multiple pages at once.

Screw post bound book example

I purchased my own set of these screws as although I only technically needed one for a swatch book, a small set of mixed thread lengths was cheap to come by and may come in useful for future projects.

I gathered up as much unused paper variants as I could and used a trimmer to cut them into A6 sheets. I like the small scale of the Mixam A7 Samples, but I wanted to have a bit more room to get a clearer impression of the weight and qualities of my own stock. I then labelled each page with its known weight (gsm), name and manufacturer as records that I can refer to if I want to purchase more of a particular type later on.

Building my own swatch book from various paper stocks.

The full block was then stacked from heaviest to lightest, then punched in the top left corner and finally bound with the screw. For now, I have kept this version untouched by inks or modifications as I prefer to see the paper in an original state before deciding what to use, but in the future I may make a second copy or duplicate pages to experiment with how each page reacts to folding and block printing,

This turned out to be a really simple and fun activity! I enjoyed developing my own taxonomy for my different papers and this will solve an issue I've had over the years where I would often lose or forget the labels that told me what a leftover scrap of paper actually came from. Extra sheets can also be added over time and the limit increased using longer screws as my collection grows.


Pipes, A. (2011) 'On Press' In: Pipes, A. Production for graphic designers. Laurence King pp. 165-219.