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Archive for June 2012

BeefFront.jpgRather than name this book after its obvious origins (a beef curry package), I decided to go with What Is This? What Is This? is a B6 blank notebook with seven signatures of four sheets each for 112 pages. It is made of a recycled Beef Curry package. The cow the curry was made out of, according to the package, was raised by Miyazaki University students. Hence the name of the curry is MiyaDai Beef Curry. (Dai being short for daigaku - 大学 - which is Japanese for university.)

Gee, free Japanese lessons with your bookbinding enjoyment. It's always nice to learn another language, isn't it?

BeefOpen.jpgActually, the curry name shows you three of the four written syllabary Japan uses. The MiyaDai (small, in white) is kanji; then in big English letters is Beef; following that is katakana which Japan likes to use for words borrowed from other countries. The katakana here is カレー - kare, pronounced ka ray - or, in English, curry. This might be one reason Japanese students are in school studying Japanese for twelve years, eh? I mean, they study English for at least six years (junior high and high school), plus at least one in college. And advertising uses all three or four syllabaries to an artful result. Sometimes.

There's another syllabary Japan uses called hiragana but we don't need to go into that here, do we? Nyah.

BeefBack.jpgWhat Is This? has a red bookmark made out of a ribbon recovered from one present or another, and a yellow strap to keep the book closed during typhoon season, which is fast approaching Japan. The yellow elastic strap was 30 mm wide but I've discovered that 15 mm is a better width. I cut it in half and it slowly unravels as the book is used. This is known as Unique and Stylish. Or Planned Obsolescence. In either case, What Is This? was a quick book to make and will be fully used as a notebook by someone in the future.

What I am actually doing with these curry books is trying to perfect one or another skills. Attaching a strap or measuring the spine differently. Maybe even trying to improve my endpaper attachment technique. I haven't been working enough to improve as well as I want to so I thought more and more cheaply made books will push me up and over a plateau. Whether this is working or not isn't up to even a mild debate.


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chicken_front.jpgAnger and frustration are wonderful motivators. Sometimes. Bookbinding is not the place to vent your anger, though. And what is anger but frustration at yourself for not accomplishing in real life what you see in your mind and heart? Last week I had a beautiful vision in my brain of a moleskine-esque blank notebook. It had a yellow spine, black cover, and a yellow band to keep the thing closed when you're running out of a bank you just held up. Yellow and black. Black & Decker or heavy equipment operators would love it. But... Yes, there is a 'however'.

First, I mis-measured the black book cloth so the back had more than the front. The yellow spine book cloth was okay but then the big mistake. The big BIG mistake. I attached the endpaper on the back OVER the strap that keeps the book closed during your bank robbery escape. Yes. OVER the strap. Covered the strap Completely! Then the front endpaper smacked too much glue on the text block and kept it closed. Even without the strap. STRIKE THREE!

chicken_open.jpgTossed the book across the room. Kicked myself (figuratively) and kicked the garbage can (literally). Picked the book up & ripped the covers off. Ripped the spine off. Ripped the book cloth off the back. Ripped the endpapers off. All in about two seconds. Rapid ripping, after which I went and had dinner. Slowly and with a bit of humor about the chicken. Chicken jokes.

That was a good week ago or more. Last night, after a glass and a half of organic South African red wine that came with a dinner of chicken curry, I returned to the pile of material that was, at one time, a ripped up book. I carefully measured and cut black book cloth for the covers. Then I cut the cover off the curry packet and used it as the spine cover. Except, well, anyway, uh, yeah. I cut it to exactly the height of the book. Yes, the exact height. No bit to bend and glue. Oh, well. No frustration here, eh? It has eight signatures of five sheets for 160 pages and is B6 in  size (about 51/2" by 71/2"). The spine reads: Miyazaki Chicken Curry. (Miyazaki is a prefecture in southern Japan.)

chicken_endpapers.jpgThe end result is a fun-looking blank notebook called Miyazaki Chicken Curry. Retained from the vision in my head: the black book cloth, the yellow strap, the off-yellow paper. Added since my blow up: the curry packet spine, yellow endpapers, pictures of Miyazaki, leftover string & a scrap of endpaper paper on the cover. Plus the exposed spine at the head and tail through my miscalculation of cutting the spine paper to the exact height of the book. But fun. Humor. Laughter this time instead of anger and frustration. They might be wonderful motivators but they inhibit the enjoyment of bookbinding that I have in my mind and heart.


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slipcover_Partial.jpgClamshell boxes and slipcases. Dresses for books. Both are fun to include in the price of a handmade book but one causes a considerable amount of stress and frustration - at least for me it does - while the other, uh, doesn't. After struggling through two clamshell boxes (you can hear about it, if you wish, below), I made a slipcase. Compared to the clamshell box, slipcases slip together much more easily. Nothing moves, for one. And I can visualize the completed box much easily. In fact, I made my first slipcase in less than an hour. The first clamshell took me maybe a grueling four hours.

The cover paper is the same as on the last clamshell box I made but without the small wavy design. I used the same paper with the Line 'Em Up, Dano book (Episode 76.) I like to use it because it's free. You can't go wrong with free. I like to practice with material that doesn't cost anything - I hope I don't run out before I perfect Something, eh? If I screw up anything I'm making with free material I don't feel as upset, frustrated, and depressed as when I use my own hard-earned cash for store-bought material. I'd better get better at making stuff soon, eh.


The book in the slipcase was made some time ago. But still in this century. It has Japanese-style paper which was probably designed in another century. It's rough to the touch plus has the neat design. The book has ten signatures of four sheets each for about 160 pages. The first sheet of paper in each section is green while the rest are your regular white so the spine looks mostly green. It is coptic stitched with black thread with five stations which means it can open quite wide and you can use the entire page, if you feel so inclined. It also has red endpapers just to spice things up a bit and to increase the colorfulness of it. As if the cover paper wasn't colorful enough. It's A5 (81/2" by 6") in size. It's a blank notebook.

If you want, you can ask me for it. Just email tedorigawa.bookmakers@gmail.com with Line 'Em Up, Dano! in the subject line and I'll send it to you With the Slipcase! Won't that be cool? The first request I get gets it.

slipcover_end.jpgThis week we have music with our audio. The tune - not the entire song but just a couple of bits - is called Overland Blues and it's by the Yoshida Brothers who play the shamisen and are quite popular in Japan. And elsewhere, it seems. To listen to the entire song, click the link below. With the music, the drama is longer than usual. It's a little over four minutes long instead of the usual two or three. Is that right? I think so. Enjoy.


Best of Yoshida Brothers - Tsugaru Shamisen

Yoshida Brothers Yoshida "Overland Blues" (mp3) from "Best of Yoshida Brothers - Tsugaru Shamisen" (Domo Records)

IODA Buy at iTunes Music Store iTunes More On This Album


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