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What I have been up to these last few months. First, I rented a space that I hope will encourage more production of books. I could call it a studio. And it has encourage more production of books, actually. I have limited time here (before and after other responsibilities) so rather than lounge around thinking, I do. Good fun.

Second, I thought about, designed, computerized, made, and showed a touristy book for tourists to places that might have some tourists. They didn’t think it was terrible and my pricing was spot on, according to them. This was good. 


Third, I have been putting Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy on InDesign so I can print it out and make books. My original intent was to computerize it, make ebooks, sell them on Amazon and iBooks, & etc. And simultaneously make books, too. But then I realized that iBooks has some Very nice editions on sale. As does Amazon, of course. I might put my version up as well, to see if anything comes of all my work. If I do and if anyone purchases my version over, say, Penguin’s version, I’ll probably invest my income in Kiva.

Lastly, I started out to make a book about Canals. Like the ones that used to be on Mars according to Percival Lowell and Edgar Rice Burroughs. But I ended up writing and making a book (Yotsume toji binding, about B6 in size.) about… I’m not sure. Science. Time. The shift from Geocentric thought to Heliocentric thought. Peopled by Kepler, Brahe, Copernicus, Nicholas of Cusa (who?), and Virginia Galilei.

Good afternoon everyone. I have created a tourist book or two for tourists to this fine town and it is titled Doko?Kanazawa which is a shirt-pocket sized lined notebook with 100 pages and... And it has pictures of places most tourists might not see although they are next to the famous places tourists go to see. A bakery, for example, next to a famous shrine. The bakery is good, it is tasty, the food is plentiful but it is small. And to get to it you have to veer left rather than go straight to the famous shrine.
If tourists have my little book, they can find these places, photograph them themselves, and enjoy a little bit more than the usual touristy spots. Maybe someday I'll put a picture or two up. 
Recently I've made a few Japanese stab bindings especially Yotsume Toji (four-hole binding). I made a book about the art of Kanazawa called, appropriately, Kanazawa Arts which includes short short extremely short essays on 
  • Kutani-yaki (a colorful style of pottery), 
  • Wajima-nuri (a black & white style of lacquerware), 
  • Kaga-Yuzen (fabric dyeing), 
  • Washi (paper), 
  • Wagashi (Japanese-style sweets), 
  • Kinpaku (gold-leaf painting), and 
  • Matsudaira Sadanobu a politician who may have named Kanazawa's famous garden, Kenrokuen, Kenrokuen. 

The book cried out for Yotsume-toji and got it.

The main difference between Japanese stab bindings and Chinese stab bindings, which are the origins of Japanese stab bindings is the distance between the threads. In Japanese bindings they must be equidistant. In Chinese bindings, not so much. And the language inside the book, of course. 

While at the same time I've been working on coptic bindings for a small line notebook. Coptic binding only needs glue for the cover, if you glue the cover together. Stab bindings only require glue on the corner pieces (if you want them) and the title on the cover. This new job seems to bring out the work in me. I like it.

Hands 1.jpg

My hardy computer crashed and I was forced... Forced, mind you... to case in some books. Which I didn't do. However, I did make two yotsume tori (四つ目綴じ) aka Japanese stab binding books of about 20 pages each. Actually, they were the same book slightly different. Both were photos of hands. Hands of artists, engineers, students, and company employees with a bit about each person. The first one was in black and white while the second one had some color added. The first one was also printed on nice, thick paper so the image didn't bleed through to the other side. Just as it should be. The second one, the color-enhanced one, was printed on less than quality paper but it was more for practice than producing a real book. Real?

This is a bit of the book ~ a bookbinder's hand with, of course, a bookbinder's hand holding the book open. It has about 18 other photos of 18 other peoples' hands. Some good shots, some not so good but sufficient. All taken with my handy iPad mini in, usually, the artist's studio. Very interesting artists, too. And engineers. 

The only problem was getting the photos on the page so that the binding didn't overlap on the photos. Successfully arranged. And putting in the corner pieces which were too big but we learn as we go, eh? And getting the photos in the first place. Actually, that wasn't so hard. I just had to meet the artists and ask if I could take their hands. Hmm. They were all happy to oblige.



I left my old day job and started a new day job. The new day job is making books. But before I can make them I had to set up my studio which included making a desk from a door and two sturdy shelves. So far my New day job doesn't make enough cash for me so I have a few part-time jobs to support myself with.

The new day job —the bookbinding job— has begun with putting Tristram Shandy in InDesign for future publication—making a lined notebook for sale to tourists—writing a novel about an Art Lover in Spain. Great times. Busier than before but feel more........ in control. 

Next adventure would be to get into more craft fairs and approach shops that sell things my customers might be interested in. Could be tough. Cold calls and all.
I will be at the San Francisco Center for the Book this August taking a one-week class in making four different kinds of books: coptic, flat-back case, limp paper, and rounded back cloth bindings. I'm looking forward to both the workshop and being in San Francisco. A great excursion for this year.

HTMTB_Front.jpgHere is How to Make this Book, an 18-page B6-sized pamphlet using the Hemp Leaf Binding. If you go to Episode 133 you can read a tutorial on this binding. The book is a combination history lesson about the empresses of Japan; there have been only eight. However, two of the empresses (Suiko and Koken/Shotoku) were instrumental in developing printing, book making, and writing in Japan.

HTMTB_Page.jpgSuiko sent the people to China who brought back the writing system Japan still uses. Koken/Shotoku (the same woman was empress twice so she had two names) encouraged the arts including printing. She imported woodblock printing from Korea so that she could make 1,000,000 copies of a Buddhist mantra. It was the first use of woodblock printing in Japan.

HTMTB_Open2.jpgBetween the two,
printing and writing flourished and with that flourishment (?) came the need to bind the pages together. From that need came what is known as Japanese binding or watoji (和綴じ). Among the more popular watoji are the hemp leaf, the turtle shell, the noble, and the four-hole bindings.
Here you can see the pictures that go with the tutorial. Or go down to Episode 133 and see them there, too. Fun, eh?


As I learn about the Hemp Leaf Binding I decided to write up a quick tutorial. Here it is.

First, you’ll need some paper for the pages. The size is your choice but it should be thin. Hemp leaf binding ~ most Japanese bindings, in fact ~ favor thin pages and thin covers. Craft paper makes for a good cover as it is thick enough to be a cover yet thin enough to work properly. Then, get a scrap piece of paper the same height as your cover. On this scrap piece of paper we are going to mark the holes for stabbing.

There will be seven holes. There will be two rows: one row will have four holes labelled 1A ~ 4A.; The other row will have three holes with clever names like 1B, 2B, and 3B. The row with four holes should be about 10 mm (a bit less than half an inch) from the edge. The row with three holes should be about 5 mm (half the distance from the edge to the row with four holes) from the edge. The distance between the holes should be the same.

Let's start at the very beginning, which I'm told is a very nice place to start. The beginning is the hard part.

Here’s the short version:

Start at 2A. Wrap the thread around the edge at 2A
Go to 2B, wrap the thread around the edge (wrap)
Go back to 2A. From 2A front, go to 3A.
From the back of 3A, go to 2B.
From 2B go to 3A again and wrap the thread around the edge.
Go to 3B and wrap the thread.
Go to 3A. From the back, go to 4A.
From 4A go to 3B.
From the back of 3B go to 4A and wrap the thread around both edges.
Go to 3A. From the back of 3A, go to 2A.
From 2A go to 1B and wrap it.
Go to 2A. From 2A go to 1A and wrap it around the edge.
Go to 1B, then back to 1A, wrap it around the other edge. Go to 2A.
Tie it off at 2A.

Here’s the slightly more intimate version:

Start in the middle of your pages at 2A.

Go to the front of 2A, then wrap the thread around the edge, ending up back at the front at 2A.

Go to 2B and wrap the thread around the edge, ending up at the back of 2B.

From the back of 2B, go to 2A. From the front of 2A, go to 3A. From the back of 3A, go to 2B.

From 2B, go to 3A and wrap the thread around the edge.
Go to 3B and wrap the thread around the edge.
Go to 3A and from the back of 3A, go to 4A.

From 4A go to 3B. From the back of 3B, go to 4A

At 4A, wrap the thread around both edges.

From the front of 4A go to 3A.

From the back of 3A go to 2A.
From the front of 2A go to 1B. Wrap the thread around the edge.

From the back of 1B go to 2A.

From the front of 2A go to 1A and wrap the thread around one edge.

Go to 1B. From the front of 1B, go to 1A and wrap the thread round the other edge.

From 1A, go to 2A. Somehow find the end of the thread that’s in the middle and tie it off.

This should end up looking something like this. Hopefully, you'll be able to follow my instructions. If not, well, tell me about it.

But most of all, enjoy trying your hand at this binding, if you don't already know it.

Thanks for dropping by.

CalvadoCoverSmall.jpgWhat I do is write novels and bind books. I write what are usually called literary fiction. This is when your novel doesn't fit any of the other preconceived boxes (scifi, fantasy, fanfic, romance, detective, mystery, historical, YA, erotica, or western) into which people can put your novel. It also means the characters are more important than the plot.

TristramCoverSmall200x200.jpgMy novels tend to be heavy on characterization and light on the plot although one novel (The Venetian Slime Woman) is plot heavy. Another one (Tristram's Printer) is plot light. Both, I believe, are character-driven. Yet a third (The Idiot Runs) has time travel - a character goes back in time. A fourth (Calvado) has time travel of another sort - the tale of the two main characters is told in jump-cut time-slipping fashion (We meet them, then we see them younger, later a bit older, then back in their lives).

PriestsCOVER.jpgThe fifth novel (The Priests of Hiroshima) also has time travel. In fact, it has two stories: one in the present (kind of) and one in 1453 Mainz, Germany. It also has nothing to do with the priests who survived the atom destruction of Hiroshima (although one of the main characters is Japanese.).

Bookbinding is my other occupation. I write, edit, print, and bind my novels (and other topics, of course) thus improving my binding skills and having a solid soft- or hard-cover copy of my novel. A nice symbiosis. The problem is when I read the novel I find way too many mistakes which means I go back to the 525600cords_2small.jpgcomputer to fix (hopefully) most of them, reprint and then Yes! I have another book to bind. Currently I have about six novels waiting for my bookbinding persona to show up and work on them.

MayaSchedule1516_4small.jpgThis is a 100-page A5 schedule book with pictures from the client to personalize it. The paper is 120 g/m2, which is, in my limited experience, too thick for this kind of book but the client liked it so all is well. A mistake (I thought I was buying regular paper) but it worked out. Fortunately.

The cover is made up of a variety of leftover pieces that I wanted to use before buying more. Since the client gave me carte blanche I gave it a shot. As you can see on the front, there are two different colored book cloths plus a bit of color in the MayaSchedule1516_3small.jpgmiddle. The bit of color is actually an endpaper. Obviously it isn't big enough to use as an endpaper, so I used it to cover the seam between book cloths. The back was also comprised of leftover bits. It might look like two pieces but it is actually three; two just happen to be small pieces of the same design.

Since the client wanted the book to open wide enough so they could use the entire page, I used coptic binding. This was good because Wednesday and Thursday are in the crease and are busy days. Lots of notes will be written in the margins of those two days. I also used multi-colored thread. The book is brown: the textblock, all the pieces on the cover. Even the endpaper I used on the front cover is brownish (with streaks of red and green). The colored thread gives it a little bit more personality.

MayaSchedule1516_2small.jpgSpeaking of endpapers, these, too, were leftover pieces: thicker Japanese paper (washi) cut to fit the covers.

The book itself has a yearly calendar for 2015 & 2016, a monthly calendar for April 2015 to March 2016 (the Japanese school year), and a weekly calendar. The monthly calendar is followed by the weekly calendar for that month. Just like the client designed it.

The April 2015 - March 2016 Schedule Book


Next up? The 366-page schedule book.

The San Francisco Center for the Book has a workshop called the Bookbinding Core 1 ~ 4. In this workshop people can make all sorts of books, learn all sorts of new skills, get all sorts of advice from great teachers, and generally ratchet up their bookbinding skills to a new, higher level. I wanted to go. I checked the dates of the workshops. I checked around for cheap hotels. I checked for cheap flights. I was psyched to go! I checked my work schedule. Boom. A meeting. Right in the middle of the workshop week. Impossible for me to go. Then, on my Facebook page, I get photos by Facebook friends who Are in San Francisco and the San Francisco Center for the Book and Are taking this Bookbinding Core 1 ~ 4 workshop. And Are getting great instruction. Drats! Am I jealous or what? Yes! I'm definitely not What?

Pages.jpgRegardless of my jealousy and frustration, I am making a book about soup. It is not merely a history of soup but includes characters such as Bishop Ussher, Hunt & Tony Sales (musical sons of Soupy), the last soups of famous people before they died (Julia Child had French onion), Duck Soup by the Marx Brothers, and soups in movies (Tom Jones comes to mind), and, of course, the Soup Nazi and his first appearance (Sleepless in Seattle.) It will be Japanese stab bound as is the red book in the photo at left.

The pages for the Soup book, titled: Soup: A Seasoned History, have been aged in tea & coffee and burnt around the edges. It is B6 in size and has 55 pages. Profusely illustrated, of course. I'm waiting to find a coffee bag to finish of the covers before I can sew it together. Maybe next year I can learn Japanese stab binding better at SFCB.


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