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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.

Kikkado_Cover.jpgAn A6 size notebook that fits nicely in one's pocket is pictured here. It was made of upcycled material. Specifically it was made from a box that a delicious New Year's Stollen came in. Unfortunately, I ate the cake so I can't send you any. The notebook is six signatures of four sheets resulting in about 84 pages. A handy size all around, I think.

Stollen.jpgI sewed, glues, mulled, and put on those glue-on headbands much, much earlier last year and, when I saw the box the stollen came in I thought, wow, here's the cheap (i.e. free) book board I've been looking for. I spent a wonderful afternoon measuring, cutting, gluing, and finding endpapers.

Kikkado_endpaper.jpgThe endpapers are also upcycled.... I really don't like that word. It sounds too cutesy. The endpapers are also made from recycled material. I believe they are from a wrapping that another purchase was wrapped up in.

All in all, a fairly successful adventure, considering these are among the first books I've cased in in a long time. I cased in the yearly planner shortly after New Year's but these are in the top three, for sure.
2015Planner_Cover.pngThis is a  planner that was supposed to be presented as a Saturnalia present back on December 25th but I got a bit  backed up. Well, with running around shopping at least.

It is A5, 12 signatures of four folios each for about 192 pages. I used a link stitch and cased it in with 2 mm book boards. Plus it was only about two weeks late. Hey, it's the thought that counts? Next year... Earlier? (That's what I said this year....)

2015Planner_Endpaper.jpgAs you can see, it has purple endpapers that are intended to match a pair of chairs that will be delivered at the end of January, another Saturnalia present arriving fashionably late.

It comes with a weekly calendar, a monthly calendar, and two yearly calendars. It also has lots of space for note-taking; for example, the weekly calendar is on the left side while the right side is blank. A request from the recipient.

This is the fourth book I've made so far this year and it's only the fifth of January. I will definitely not say I will be making a book-a-day for 2015 but I'm off to a good start. The other three books were kind of a fluky thing.
2015Planner_Monthly.pngI had this badly printed novel on my desk for a while (like a year or more ~  the novel is Tristram's Printer). It was printed on only one side of the paper and I contemplated occasionally, what to do with it. One option, which came up frequently, was to trash it. Another was to Perfect bind it. The last option was to use a Japanese stab binding which is the one I went with. However, a 200 page novel is hard to stab. So I divided it up into five mini-novels which are pretty much divided along chapter lines. On the second day of the first month of the year, I stabbed section one.

This stabbing was followed on the third and fourth. When I finish all five sections I hope to make a small clamshell box for them and title it Tristram's Printer's Skeleton as the pages have been edited in red and black pen. Lots of corrections.

2015PlannerOpen_Weekly.jpgOn the last two pictures you can see a monthly calendar followed by a weekly calendar. On the weekly calendar you can also see how much space is available for writing: the entire right-hand page. The previous planner had a weekly calendar on both pages but the recipient requested more writing acreage which I happily provided.

Speaking of casing in books, I believe I have about 14 uncased books lining my desk. Does that mean I will case in 14 books in the next two weeks? One can only hope. Especially considering that two of them were intended as year-end presents.

Giapan_small_Adjusted_ipod.jpgArt-o-Mat sells art through used cigarette machines. Artists may submit their work to Art-o-Mat but it must meet certain requirements, like size. This is a great idea for not only recycling used cigarette machines but for also distributing art to people walking down the street. Go to: Art-O-Mat.

In that spirit, I am working on cigarette package-sized books. The book must fit inside a box the size of a cigarette pack and that has given me a whole new set of skills: measuring extremely accurately, folding, printing, and sewing small stuff. Eight pages are printed on one sheet of paper and then folded. The first book is nine signatures. The signatures are then sewn together. The second book is seven signatures. How many books will it eventually contain? I have no idea. Thrilling, isn't it? Picture two has a couple of cover ideas.

Giapan_small_cover.jpgThe book is called Giapan: A Quixotic Love Story. It is about a gypsy nun (La Gitana) and a wanderer (Giapan) who find themselves working for King Phillip of Spain shortly before the Spanish Armada sets out on its fateful voyage. The nun and the wanderer cross paths with a famous Spanish novelist who works briefly as a tax collector for King Phillip; until he is arrested for embezzlement.
PriestsJapanese_KadoKami1.jpgThe first picture is a picture of my be-jeaned knees. Pretty, no? Between the knees you can see the kado-kami (edge papers) that support the text block and go under the cover and around the corners at the head and foot of the book. You can also see the thread wrapping around the edges.

This second picture is of the covers of the two recycled volumes of The Priests of Hiroshima: An Historical Love Story. What is the story about? A medical student and a Japanese student discover an antique bookstore in Istanbul with a talking cat that has perfected time travel. They go back to Mainz, PriestsJapanese_Cover.jpgGermany to watch Gutenberg build his printing press, avoid arrest, watch a nun and priest fall in love, and discover their joy of life. Nothing whatsoever to do with Hiroshima or those semi-famous priests.

One of the better things about the Japanese binding? It can be done fairly quickly with no waiting around for glue to dry. (Except for the kado-kami.)



The shaded areas in the picture on the left are the Kado Kami (角紙) that supports the corners of the spine. On the right are the Koyori Kami (コヨリ紙) that supports the text block itself. In this picture the twisted paper is put through two holes; some instructions are for only one hole.

Plus, an easy to watch speed version of sewing six signatures of a blank notebook: Binding Six Signatures.


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.

SchedulePhotosAll.jpgUsually 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.

FirstPage2015.jpgIt 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 tedorigawa.bookmakers@gmail.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.


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