An Easy Way to Strain Wheat Starch Paste

Wheat starch paste is widely used as an adhesive and size in bookbinding and conservation because it is long lasting, strong, reversible and non-yellowing.  After making wheat starch paste, it is generally strained, thinned, aged, or otherwise worked to give it the appropriate working qualities for the task at hand. A horsehair (or other non-metalic, ie. silk screen fabric) strainer is commonly used, however the technique below is quick, easy, fun and impressive. It results in a paste suitable for many bookbinding and book conservation purposes.





-Use an undyed, unbleached, natural fiber square of cloth that does not shed fibers.

-The cloth can be prewetted, to various degrees, to alter the final consistency of the paste.

-Rinse and clean the cloth immediately after use.

-Note the use of the thumb during the final squeeze.

Caution: Too vigorous a twisting and squeezing motion can cause the paste to fly out, in equal proportions, into your eye and onto the floor.

-I imagine different weave tightness or thread counts could change affect the consistency of the paste.

-The main drawback of this technique is that it is best suited for small quantities of paste.


Thanks to Clare Manias, Rare Book Conservator of the Museum of Biblical Art for sharing this tip.

One Reply to “An Easy Way to Strain Wheat Starch Paste”

  1. We used this handy trick when I was volunteering at the Ransom Center. I think that we used a fine polyester mesh in the place of the cloth. Easier to clean and longer lasting perhaps.

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