Photos: Bellows Papers

I have a hot foil printing press, which I use to print my own bellows papers. Several of the instruments I’ve made have had special custom designs, provided by or designed in collaboration with the client.

I made two variations on this Japanese wave pattern paper while experimenting with line widths, and I don’t think anybody has ordered it yet.

A Pictish key pattern that I used on No. 10:

I also used the same pattern on No. 6 printed with silver foil instead of gold:

No. 5 has a sycamore leaf and seed pod design, made in collaboration with my client:

The dragon bellows papers on No. 8 were designed by Sue Mason, a mutual friend of the client and myself. The design has exceptionally fine details so I had the printing plates etched in copper.

No. 9 has a Pictish beast design provided by the client, based on a design licensed from a third party:

The fanciest bellows papers I’ve made were for No. 7. It has two designs; a pair of roses and a butterfly. I drew the patterns in collaboration with the client. The designs were printed in rose gold foil on ivory paper, then hand coloured with watercolour paint and a brush. The wings of the butterflies appear to fly as you play the instrument. The paint is deliberately slightly imperfect and inconsistent to add more variation and visual interest.

I do also sometimes make bellows with plain black imitation leather papers like on No. 12:

I have since run out of the imitation leather paper I used to use and can’t find anywhere that sells it, but I have sourced a different (less heavily textured) type that I believe will be just as good. The new paper actually takes foil printing very well, so in future I may try printing patterns onto that instead of plain black paper.