Above: Looking at the folded and sewn portion of a signature (tail end of the book is at the left) made with Stonehenge Kraft brown paper. You can see how the paper has fractured even when folded with the grain. Additionally, though this 6-signature book was minimally handled the sewing holes are tearing out and the pages could use reinforcement. Read this post for details. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I have written several posts about my adventures with the new color of Stonehenge: Kraft brown. I love the surface for painting on with gouache, but the paper is not suitable for bookbinding. It cracks horribly when folded with the grain.
Above you'll see a close up of the final page spread in the journal I made with Stonehenge Kraft brown. You'll see how it is essentially breaking down into layers—fracturing—where it was folded.
When binding you fold your paper so that the grain direction runs parallel with the spine. That way the opening and closing and turning of the pages doesn't constantly crack the fibers. Unfortunately with some papers, even when you fold with the grain there is still some cracking. Sometimes this cracking can be mild (and not a deal breaker).
The cracking I experienced with Stonehenge Kraft, however, was major. I am actually pretty respectful of my books, i.e., I treat them kindly and somewhat protectively when I am using them. It's one of the reasons I have other artists who are a little more hard on their books test books when I use new papers. Then I can see how much abuse a paper can take.
There was no need to do that in this case. The cracking of this paper, folded with the grain, was so severe that after only working in-studio on 3 pages it was clear there was a problem. As explained in another post, this journal became an in-studio journal, and was treated very kindly indeed. Even so, by the time I finished it (30 days) the book was showing signs of stress as you can see from this final page, which was hardly turned at all.
However, I won't bind with this paper. (I will check on it in the future, because I don't want to give up the hope of the lovely color. If future batches of the paper improve and I find out about it I will be sure to let you know.)
The other 35 sheets worth of this paper which I had torn down and bound into text blocks for casing in will be trimmed down into single pieces which I'll use for small paintings and possibly for journal cards at the 2012 Minnesota State Fair. I'll keep you posted about all that too.
Note: I have used the original Stonehenge paper colors for binding for my own books and when teaching journal making. I have experienced anything from mild to little cracking when folding the paper with the grain. I will put up with anything up to mild cracking if I enjoy working on a paper's surface. The only other NEW color of this line I have tried is the light icy blue. I experienced excessive cracking when folding it into signatures as well. I would rate the cracking as greater than mild cracking, but less than the severe cracking of the Kraft brown. I will not be using the icy blue color for binding either. I have not tried either of the other two new colors: a cool white and a gray. I have no intentions of trying either of those as I have enough white papers I love and can use, and I don't tend to work on gray paper. (Apologies for repeating these details, but people keep writing in and asking me about this, so it's best to get it all out of the way.)
When creating a structure for a class sample if I think it would be suitable to use one of the original Stonehenge colors I will test a sheet first for suitability, before committing. This paper is priced so reasonably that it's difficult to ignore if you want to keep class supply costs down for your students. But it is also important for me as an instructor to give the students a frustration-free experience with papers that they can return to without hesitation.
If you teach binding, or simply bind your own journals, I encourage to you test a sheet of the original Stonehenge before you commit to a big batch that might not be suitable for your project.