To the left of the leathers were rolls of book cloth (backed with paper for easier gluing) in various textures and fabrics, much of it imported from Japan. And to the right were stiff, creamy sheets of vellum and almost opalescent parchment imported from Britain; the parchment is treasured by botanical illustrators for its ability to hold the finest line without any bleed, and because it can withstand sanding, should the artist’s hand tremble at the wrong moment.
On the opposite wall were displays of marbled papers hand-rubbed with beeswax, bookbinders’ tools laid out in glass cases like surgical instruments and an 18th-century vellum press standing tall beside the entrance door. Confronted with this gorgeous hoard, one might believe one had entered a precious and backward-looking establishment.
But though Talas is renowned for hunting down the most elusive of arcane materials (sturgeon glue, imported from Russia and made from the endangered fish’s bladder, causes no end of trouble at customs), the book arts are also surprisingly high tech.
Source: The New York Times