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What Books and Adobe Have in Common

In many regions of the world, people build structures with adobe, a mix of clay and fibrous materials such as grass. Some books are made of paper that has also been coated with clay. This coating is known for the vibrant reproduction of four-color printing, for example in photography books, and for its satiny finish and feel. In a book with clay-coated paper, the wood fibers that make up the paper pulp function similarly to the grasses or other fibrous materials in adobe bricks. If the book gets wet, you must treat the book quickly. Otherwise, the paper’s clay coating and fibrous wood pulp will fuse together into an adobe brick. Great for building – not for reading.

Notice how the paper fibers have torn where someone has tried to separate some of the pages, and how the pages clump together where the clay coating on the paper has gotten wet.


Books Gone Bad - Mold in Library Collections was a project sponsored by Maine College of Art, in partnership with the Joanne Waxman Library. Funding for this project came from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation. The Project Lead and Artist for this project was Diane J. Wren. All contents Copyright © 2011 by Diane J. Wren. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a data base or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of Diane J. Wren.