Perhaps it’s more of a paper term than a bookbinding one, but useful to know in bookmaking nonetheless. “Ingres”, when it comes to paper, describes a light to medium weight paper, with a laid finish, usually available in a range of shades, that is excellent for charcoal, pastel, and ink drawings. For bookbinders, this kind of paper is commonly used for the endpapers (or endsheets) in hand-bound books. The names Ingres is a reference to the French Neoclassical artist Dominique Ingres, one of the first to popularize the use of this kind of paper for charcoal. The laid mesh finish refers to the pattern made by the screen left on the sheet by the hand paper maker’s mould -though not all papers with Ingres in their name are necessarily handmade. Machine made versions will have a similar pattern replicated on the sheet. The toothiness of the pattern on one side of the sheet holds the particles of charcoal well, making it perfect for drawing.
Here at the Center, we have several different kinds and colors of Ingres paper on hand for classes, by a variety of different western paper mills, including Hahnemühle, Canson, and Zerkall. These papers usually come in fairly small sheets, about 19″ x 25″ or thereabouts. The diverse number of colors and shades are very beneficial when working on a book, as even in early projects (such as the ones done in Bookbinding 1) the binder wants his or her endsheets to match or complement whatever cover design they choose.
These sheets are a good choice for books that have complex or ornate patterns for their covers. Instead of clashing with an equally decorative cover, using a solid color can bring out details in the cover that may go unnoticed, like pairing an accessory with an outfit to bring out the color of your eyes.
If you ever take a bookbinding class at the Center for Book Arts (which I encourage you to take because they are quite fun!), you most likely will use an Ingres paper for the endsheets of your first hard-back book. While colors that match your cover can be interesting, try using ones that contrast, too: such as yellow with a purple cover or pink with green. You may come out with something very interesting and unique in the end!