Making Rice Starch Paste at Home

Updated: Jan 2, 2020

Andy and I have started making japanese stab binding notebooks at home on our off days.

Well, I have only made one so far, but we are working on it.

One of the first steps in making these bindings is backing the fabric that will be used for the cover and back. You can use pretty much any fabric as long as it is fairly thin and not too stretchy. You back the fabric with a thin Japanese paper in order to keep it flat and stiff.

Fabric after being lined with Japanese paper

The best adhesive for attaching the paper to the fabric, I am told, is a starch based paste. In Europe, wheat starch is commonly used for paper and books. In Japan and other East Asian countries, Rice starch paste was developed. Either way, you are using the starch naturally found in grains to create a reversible and natural adhesive which works great with paper and cloth.

For us, we have decided to make rice starch paste akin to how Toshio Odate describes in his book on shoji screen making.

Instead of using Japanese sushi rice, we used risotto rice, as they both have a high starch content. The rice was cooked for 20 minutes and then mulched in a food processor.

More water was added afterwards and it was gently warmed over the stove and stirred until it was a consistent mayo consistency.

And that’s it! Homemade rice starch paste. Having used it now to back our fabric, we have been very impressed with how well it works and how easy it is to work with. If you have worked with wheat starch paste, you will be completely comfortable working with this.

Now we just need to finish making the rest of the book.