Serendipity brought me around a bit into American culture. First I listened to an interview with the soprano Renee Fleming who talked about Samuel Barber (Of course, she said) so I had to look him up on YouTube. Below one Barber video was another about Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass, so I listened to and read about Uncle Walt and his poetry. This inspired me to print out my incomplete novel: Caraculiambro.
Definitely think I'm over a certain funk about bookbinding which is a good thing because I have a lot of naked books that need covers and ideas for more books. Plus writing a couple.
I see great book covers by people like Susan Mills or Hedi Kyle or Don Etherington and I think to myself, how can I accomplish that? And I get into an artistic funk depression and am consumed by what's the use? That is another word for being too lazy to work through problems but it is still a real problem. It takes time to pull yourself out.
The end result, of course, is I haven't bound a book recently and have about eleven waiting for covers. I have, however, managed to conquer the funk and am starting afresh with a positive attitude. This positive attitude can be seen in the fact that I made my first podcast in two months.
Usually I manage to panic and start making next year's schedule book in late October or mid-November. Obviously this is not the best of times. So this year I took the matter into my own hands and made a schedule book in May, a full seven months before it is actually needed.
The day after I printed out a prototype and sewed it together, the Japanese government added a new holiday. Back I ran to InDesign to make that a red-letter day. Not the government's decision but the actual day itself which, if you'd like to know is August 11. It's called Mountain Day, the fourth in a series of national holidays that celebrate nature. The other three are Sea Day (in July), the Spring equinox (in March) and the Fall equinox (in September). Mountain Day makes the 16th national holiday thus far in Japan.
My 2015 schedule book has two yearly calendars (2015 & 2016), a monthly calendar that runs from January 2015 to March 2016 (everything ~ schools and work ~ starts in April in Japan), and a weekly calendar that runs from Jan. 2015 to the end of April 2016. And why does the monthly calendar end in March and the weekly calendar end in April? Good question. I think I have more work to do.
It also has 12 pictures but the pictures have nothing to do with the seasons or the months. They are photos I took of relatively well-known scenes around town. In the book itself the pictures are muted so that the dates and days can be easily seen. Not your usual touristy shots but shots of parts of places so that people who live here can try to figure out where it is. At the end of the book are all twelve pictures with captions so people can check if they're right or not.
In Episode 120 I discussed a possible novel in an Islamic binding. Today, I will talk about a definite novel in an Islamic binding with an additional feature: Magnets. We all love magnets, eh?
In the flap that extends over the front cover, I glued in a small, flat magnet. In the cover, I glued in another magnet with the opposite polarity. After some experimentation, I got them to stick together. Being small and flat, the two magnets didn't have enough umph to attract each other through two layers of book cloth. I cut the cloth away from the magnet in the extending flap. The idea is good and I have seen magnetized covers on books that literally snap shut with a resounding click. They are also a bit difficult to open. I want something in the middle between what I make and the crowbar-required other books.
The book is a novel. It is The Venetian Slime Woman: A Biological Love Story by me. It is 201 pages long, in A5 format with a hard cover. It's available as an e-book at Smashwords.com. Or as a hardback at email@example.com.
It is about a new life form found only in the canals of Poveglia Island in Venice. One glob of slime manifests itself as a beautiful psychic woman who is literally dumped in the lap of an EPA water specialist. The specialist quickly finds himself on the wrong side of Homeland Security. They want to find out what makes this slime woman tick and, if possible, kill her. The EPA man and the woman have to get back to Venice. From Seattle. Undetected. But how?
What did I learn making the magnetized version of the Islamic binding? I need a stronger set of magnets, for one. Second, again, is measuring correctly and aligning things is important. Plus, the larger the magnet, the easier it is to work with and, perhaps, the stronger it is. I have more of this thin magnet strip that I can cut up and use so expect more magnetized book closures in coming episodes.
By the way, the previous Islamic binding in Episode 120 is not a novel but a lined journal with Japanese ~ English translations and puns in the upper margin.
What have I been doing in the last month or so? Reading about how paper got from Cai Lun's workshop in Leiyang, Hunan province in southern China in 105 CE to Europe a mere 1200 years later. Leave it to those rascally Moslem conquerors in the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates in the six and seven hundreds.
First, remember that the Han dynasty is from 200 BCE to 200 CE and that Cai Lun was alive from 50 to 120 CE. The Han dynasty worked out how to get silk from China to Europe via the Middle East. They did it with caravans from Xian, China to Samarkand, a city in Uzbekistan that has been conquered by everyone from Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan.
Merchants along the trade routes sell everything except the technical knowledge of how to make silk and paper. Meanwhile, the Umayyad Caliphate conquers everything from Damascus to Cordoba, Spain. Then the Abbasid Caliphate squeezes the Umayyad out of everything but Spain. The Abbasid also wants to move East toward China. The Tang Dynasty under Emperor Xuanyang objects. The two regional superpowers duke it out at the river Talas, north of Samarkand.
One result of this battle is that Chinese papermakers are captured, marched to Samarkand and forced to teach the caliphate how to make paper or die. Shortly after, papermaking migrates from Samarkand, across the Middle East (including Egypt, where papyrus was first used) to the remains of the Umayyad Caliphate in Spain. Spain gets papermaking knowledge in about 10th century. Italy gets it about 100 years later and by 1400 Germany acquires the skill. Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany goes crazy. (And, eventually, bankrupt.)Now, while the Moslems of Samarkand were busy making paper, others in the Islamic community were busy making books with that paper. The developed an artistic style for the covers but they also developed a flap that can be used in two ways: to cover the fore-edge of the book and thus protect the contents from sand, wind, rain, and busy fingers; as a bookmark.
In this episode of Tedorigawa Bookmakers you can see that I have made a book using just such a technique. I believe the book is a novel about time-traveling between Mainz, Germany in the 1450s and Istanbul, Turkey today written by myself and called The Priests of Hiroshima.
I presented three 2014 Schedule Books as presents for Christmas 2013 but only got around to presenting them in 2014, but well before a month late. Only two weeks late. Actually, I gave four 2014 Schedule Books but one person got their book in late December! Shocking, I know.
At left is the cover of one book. It has textured off-white book cloth with a thin red string glued to the front. This one is B6 in size; slightly larger than a pocketbook but has more space for writing in the monthly & weekly calendars.
All four schedule books consisted for the same basic format with each one personalized with different pictures and certain dates. For example, each person's schedule included friends' and their own birthdays. The books were about 100 pages. Each schedule included a yearly calendar covering 2104 & 2015; and a monthly calendar followed by a weekly calendar. With photos interspersed as I saw fit.Three books were B6 in size while one, the one with the yellow rectangle on the cover, is A5. Or, if you're a north American, three were about 5 x 7 inches and one was 6 x 8 inches. Each book had a different cover, different photos, and different endpapers but the basics were the same. The basic calendar was made in InDesign, converted to pdf, and printed out using Cheap Imposter. The most encouraging aspect of this project for me was the adding of the endpapers. I think I did a good job of gluing them in properly, and straight. At right you can see the Japaneseque endpaper on one of the smaller books with the very red one on the large book.
The third small schedule book, seen below, is even more Japanese-y than the other. As you can see at left, the endpaper has lots of waves. Not Hokusai's wave, but Japanese-y anyway. The third small book has a blue/white cover with a splash of yellow across the front.
Audio is on the way.
Are words and books connected might seem like a strange question but the books I'm referring to are notebooks. Specifically, the lined notebooks ~ complete with page numbers ~ that I enjoy making. Many people make blank notebooks; some people make lined notebooks; but I enjoy making lined notebooks with words in the margins. You might not be able to see the words in this notebook, but at the top on all the pages are words in Japanese and their English equivalent. Many are useful but there are also puns, homophones, and phrases.
This particular book is A6 ~ pocketbook ~ in size with about 180 pages. It is, of course, lined and has page numbers plus the words at the top in two languages. The cloth used for the cover was purchased at a street fair and backed with paper so I could use it as book cloth. I have made my own backing but this time I splurged on an iron-on variety. I used the iron-on variety for two reasons: I don't have the space to splash a lot of water around and it's quicker. In the future, I might go back to making my own backing but as for now, I just want to use up as much cloth as I can before rushing out to buy more bookcloth. Plus, making my own book cloth helps create unique books.
Speaking of quicker, from printing the pages out on my soul-sucking Epson printer to pulling the complete book out from under the weights it slept under for a night, took about 12 hours. InDesign was a big help and if my printer didn't eat a page, and thereby screw up all the page numbers and layout for subsequent pages, it would be quicker. This particular layout is on my computer in both A6 and B5 sizes.
The endpapers, though, are very Japanese-y and not that cheap. Not that expensive but the paper was purchased at a Japanese paper shop here in town and comes in a large sheet. Seeing as how the words are in English and Japanese, I thought this paper was a good choice. Better than a marbled paper, in any case.At first I was going to print the name on the cover but then I decided my printer would probably have a seizure and refuse to thread it through. I didn't want to jam up my printer when I have a lot of reports to finish; if I ever get around to them. Therefore, no printing on the cover. I might make a dust cover for it. That would be a first. This book had a couple of firsts already though. The first first was the iron-on backing for the cloth. The second first was my attempt at getting it done fast. From tweaking the InDesign file to folding & sewing to gluing and making the cloth was, as I said, about 12 hours ~ including sleeping under pressure. I think I can speed things up and make more in one sitting if I were industrious enough.
Tuna Imagination's subtitle is A Fictive Collective which means it has snippets of history, fiction, one complete short story, an array of pictures and doodles, and is in many ways a hodgepodge of miscellany.
What kind of history? Mostly related to books and printing especially about Aldus Manutius, inventor of the comma; also Xenia Cage (John's ex-wife) who was Marcel Duchamp's bookbinder, and Nicholas Jensen.
What kind of pictures and doodles? Well, of course, Xenia's photo but also a post-modern printing done by Manutius in the 1400s in which the words formed the pictures - an innovation then as well as unique 600 years later. Plus pictures gleaned from Das Google to illustrate something in the short story - an episodic short story interspersed amongst the snippets of fiction and history.
And what is the short story? It's a story about a college student who discovers the meaning of life through a punch in the nose that gives him cerebrospinal fluid rhinorrhea. i.e. his brains leak out through his nose and while he slips in and out of a coma, he envisions the snippets of fiction and history. He is, in other words, the narrative glue that holds the book together. Kind of.
And why was Tuna Imagination made? To celebrate the joy of bookmaking ~ making books, not gambling.It is seven signatures of four sheets each for about 110 pages (both sides) and B6 in size (51/4 x 71/2" to my Norther American brethren). It was written quickly, put on InDesign, printed out, adjusted, and re-written without regard to standard fiction standards; also, it was an experiment.
I printed the cover on bits & pieces of leftover book cloth, but first I glued the pieces onto construction paper. One reason the front and back cover colors are not perfectly aligned, especially the red, is the quantity of book cloth for all colors was different. I am attempting to use up as much book cloth as possible before splurging on more.
Coming soon: lined and unlined notebooks and 2014 schedules.
What constitutes a real book? For most of my non-bookbinding friends it is a picture and title on the cover and spine plus a headband. I made my first demi-headband the other day. A rolled piece of bookcloth around a piece of string and sewn into the signatures using a contrasting color. I like it more than the glue on kind of headband, that's for sure.On the other hand, I've also made two roundback books in the last couple of weeks. Both Frankenstein and Dracula were roundback and Frankenstein had my first attempt at sewing headbands. But the thing that really makes a book a Book in the minds of mere muggles is the cover design. Do I really want to start learning how to design a book cover well? That's definitely a rabbit hole one can fall down.
That said, here are two covers of two of my novels that I have designed. One, Tristram's Printer: A Typographical Love Story, is available from Smashwords.com. It's about art, love, bookbinding, and artists. Calvado: A Deadly Love Story, is being edited for clarity and consistency. It's about love and murder.But I think the covers, the headbands, the roundback all contribute to a good-looking book that would be easier to sell than even a coptic binding, even if the coptic binding were excellent. The fact that it doesn't 'look' like a book. I, of course, would have to show the buyers the advantages of a coptic binding vs a perfect binding.
Something new in the way of an experiment: Live Recorded Voices™. I hooked up a microphone to my iPad and spent a few minutes trying to round the spine of a book and talk at the same time. Thoughts mostly related to bookbinding or books.
This is not the book I was rounding (this is a blank notebook with rough edges, I believe ~ this is an example of a roundback book). I was attempting to roundback my copy of Frankenstein. This follows last week's attempt at a round back Dracula. The Dracula worked out well. The Frankenstein is still in production. I hope to finish it before Halloween, of course.
If the audio sounds weird, remember I was sitting in a conference room with a text block between my knees and a microphone balanced on a sweater on a chair. But, enjoy nonetheless.