Rub a bonefolder on your face?

I learned how to make books when I was in graduate school – I had a part time job at Paper Source in Cambridge, MA (back when there were only two stores). I worked there with a woman named Martha (can’t remember her last name) who was enrolled in the bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School [drool].

One day, Martha told me that a good way to take care of your bonefolder was to rub it on your forehead. The oils in your skin would help to condition it. Although I thought it was odd, I had no reason not to believe her. I have engaged in the practice ever since.

Today, for whatever reason, I became obsessed with this practice. I have never heard of anyone else doing it. I decided to do a Google search. The only face-specific method I found was mentioned in an article by Evi Sztajno from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Sztajno wrote this article about Sam Green, Washington state’s first poet laureate.

Here is a quote from the article:

At a bookbinding workshop at Seattle Pacific University last week, Green got a twinkle in his eye as he rubbed a bonefolder tool on the side of his nose. That’s the secret to a really clean fold, he told women attending the workshop. “Face oil is the best,” he said, continuing to rub. “Although my wife has a favorite spot in her hair she likes to use.”

He says nose, Martha says forehead. To-may-to, to-mah-to.

So if you’ve heard of others doing the face/bonefolder tango, or if you do it, let me know. We can start a support group.

5 Responses to “Rub a bonefolder on your face?”

By Kaija - 17 October 2008 Reply

Well, I’ve heard about others rubbing the bonefolder on their face, but I don’t do it. First because I could never remember if I was wearing make-up or not (and make-up on a bonefolder sounds like a bad idea), and later because I’ve almost completely switched to using a teflon bonefolder. I do believe skin oil is good for the bone. You can also soak the bonefolder in some cooking oil (not olive oil) overnight and then thoroughly wipe it clean and let dry for some time (days?). This is something that you don’t need to do all the time, maybe once in five years would be my guess, but that’s just a guess 🙂

By tulibri - 17 October 2008 Reply

… just when I noticed some days ago that my first ever bonefolder has gotten these tiny cracks! Sounds like a method I will give a try. Although make-up is an issue, definitely …

By elissa - 17 October 2008 Reply

I don’t wear makeup and the thought of getting foundation on a bonefolder never occurred to me – good point!

I also use a teflon bonefolder, but sometimes it just feels too soft. When I need muscle, and shiny marks aren’t an issue, I always go back to my good ol’ boney bonefolder.

By Samuel Green - 5 July 2009 Reply

Hi. Thought I’d let you know that I learned that trick with the bone folder from Clifford Burke, one of the great San Francisco printers, at a lecture he gave long, long ago in Seattle. Make-up would be an issue, that’s for sure, but the natural oil alongside the nose (I’ve been told) is akin to the oil watchmakers prize. It always makes the folder slide more easily along the paper, and it doesn’t stain it. Here at our press (Brooding Heron Press & Bindery), we do almost exclusively simple case bindings and chapbooks. We’ve folded a gazillion pieces of paper over the last 30 years. I wonder how much of ourselves–literally–is in them!

Sam Green

By elissa - 6 July 2009 Reply

Sam –

Anything that allows me to continue with a currently practiced behavior is always welcome. Thanks for the validation. 🙂


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