Buckram refers to a stiff cloth that is commonly made of cotton, but still occasionally with linen. This cloth is usually used to protect and cover books. However, buckrams can also be used in order to stiffen clothes. In modern uses, buckrams are already stiffened. The method used to stiffen this cloth is by soaking it in a substance, usually contains pyroxylin, so the cloth is stiffened by filling the gaps present between the fibers. Buckram was also known as “bokeram” in the Middle Ages, referring to the fine cotton cloth.
However, you should not mistake buckram used in printing as one used for millinery purpose. The one we will discuss here is the bookbinding buckrams while the millinery ones are impregnated with a starch and commonly used to make hats.
The buckram book cloth made in America is a polycotton base cloth that is coated in aqueous acrylic. This particular type of buckram was designed to stand up to the heavy use in libraries while offering strengths, mildew resistance, and moisture resistance. Different grades are available for buckrams and it can be used also in electric boards in terms of binding with very stretchable traits. In the United States, F grade buckrams are offered in 15 different glossy colors. Buckrams listed in such grade also meets the requirements suitable for use in textbooks and can exceed performance specification for binding, especially library one.
Hence, it is not surprising that buckram is known as the strongest material available for the book binding. It is designed to protect heavy volumes often found in a library. Practically, buckrams are even indestructible. Under the normal library conditions, buckrams can even manage to last fifty years, and even more, reaching one hundred years. This particular cloth can be colored using markers, dyed, painted, and printed on. In general, when you work with buckrams, you have to avoid contact with water since it may cause the colors to run.
If you are going to print using a sheet of buckram, choose one which has been coated so it can bridge over the threads, and then seal the cloth. This way, the glues do not soak through the top surface, while it could be that the filler which is rejecting the ink and resulting in an uneven results. You can use starch, pyroxylin, or some sort of acrylic which is recently more common to use. Use the stiff ink and give the cover of the book two hits; the first hit is to create an impression while the second one will leave the film of ink on the surface.
Remember that when you print onbuckram, you will require additive driers. Alternatively, use a foil ink instead. Foil ink refers to inks that are free from wax. However, you need to be careful since using the wrong ink may end up making the foil not sticking or adhering properly on the surface. If you are going to print only the cover, do it before bindery so the cloth can lay flat.