Monday, April 15, 2013

Japanese Stab Bookbinding

I don't know if you've noticed but for a while now I've been cheating on my bags with knitting, beadweaving, tatting, crocheting, hair accessorizing and last Thursday, I did it again. This time with bookbinding. Don't get me wrong. Bag making is still my Number One priority. But I need to learn other crafts as I enjoy learning and getting excited about something I know nothing about. And lately, bag making hasn't been that exciting for me. I mean let's face it. The honeymoon is over. Seeing the same face, day in day out... wait, I am talking about my bag making, right?

Also, if all I do day in day out is make bags, I will go insane. I already see a bit of insanity in me during the weeks when I have to sew intensively because I've been busy doing other stuff (being lazy). Not good for me. This is my 6th year making bags and the 4th year I make bags for sale. I have already made more than 1,000 bags. It's been a long time. <long pause>

What a long explanation for me to learn a little craft! But really, I want you to know what's going on with me. I think that if I regularly take time out to indulge in other crafts, I will be a better bag maker. Otherwise I will continue to be in some kind of a funk and turn into a robotic bag-maker.

So this Japanese Stab Bookbinding workshop was conducted at Monster Gallery. I hadn't been to the Monster's new studio at Chinatown so hubs took me there using his Google Maps. We did a bit of walkabout at Chinatown and discovered that it has become very Chinatown since we last did a walkabout years ago. I definitely want to go back and have a look around in a few shops which sell stainless steel cookware! (that's the housewife in me screaming: stainless steel!)

The guy conducting the course is Leng and he has a blog here if you're interested. Leng did most of the hard work preparing all the materials needed. He even prepared templates so we need not do the measurements ourselves. What a guy. Oh, I really enjoyed his workshop!

Here he is again. I asked him to pose with his book of secrets. He draws very complicated diagrams of the patterns and of course only he can decipher it. If I were to look at it, I would probably see... Must. Eat. Banana. Custard.

These are our materials. I'm so happy to see the Japanese paper. I used to do a lot of Sashiko embroidery in the past and the print reminds me of Sashiko formation.

We need to use an awl. It's an essential tool. You know how clumsy I am. I ended up almost stabbing myself with it. It was just a prick. No blood. But last night I managed to hand sew onto my skin, would you believe it? I almost screamed my head off. Wait, I did.

We sewed 3 books in all. The first one is a basic binding, nothing fancy, just to get the idea. This is the second book I sewed. It uses the hemp-leaf binding method. I struggled a little to understand how the stitching is done for this method. For me, I learn best if I can see the technique. If you say, go here, go here, go there, after the workshop I'll forget everything. Simply following instructions doesn't do it for me. So for this second book, I took my time to figure it out and made a few mistakes here and there. Really, for such things, you learn best from mistakes.

This is the third book I sewed. The binding method is called tortoise shell. It's the most complicated of the three mostly because it has more holes to stitch through. When I sewed the binding, I still wasn't that confident I was doing everything right but once I completed it, I knew I've grasped the concept. After all, it is sewing and if I can sew the complicated embroidery stitches, this cannot be that hard.

This is a recommended book for Japanese book-binding and it's available at the library. So I intend to check that out and I will report my finding if I discover anything exciting. The only thing that irritates me about book-binding is that I can't find any local stores that sells the supplies. Like the linen thread for instance. I'm definitely going to have a tough time finding it.

There's another kind of bookbinding technique which I would like to pick up. It's called coptic binding, I think and I might want to see if I can learn it off the web seeing how it's not too hard. Anyway, I have started to make a few notebooks just for fun as well as to help me remember the technique. I'll show them to you next time. I'm using sashiko thread and I may try using waxed cotton as well just to see if it works.


pennydog said...

It's the same in the UK, book binding supplies are few and far between.

I haven't tried stab binding before though, the effect is very creative

Tammy said...

I agree with you - I think if you do something new once in a while, it will fuel your regular work when you go back to it.
Recently, I had to buy waxed linen thread - I found it in a local art school store - you may want to see if there are any of those around.

Be careful with that awl! I use an ice pick for making holes, I like the bigger handle & feel safer with it.

Laurie-Jane said...

I love the books. I did a bookbinding course and it isthe most satisfying craft I have done so far. My favourite books to make at the moment are out of packaging. I take the cardboard from say a block of chocolate and trim it so you have a front and back and cover the left side spine with fabric tape if small packet like bandaids I use washi tape. I then stitch note paper in using crochet cotton.

Linda said...

Good for you! Your books are wonderful!
As a second grade teacher, I used to bring in my sewing machine and sew the pages together so the students could make books. We even did hard covers with the pages glued in. We were so proud! But they were NOTHING compared to what you are doing.

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