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Archive for November 2012

Nepal_2.jpgAfter a long train ride my confidence in sewing increased. Now, after a weekend of casing in books, my confidence in casing in has increased. Practice, as it turns out, helps. Confidence, it should be noted, is not the same as competence. I'm sure I could get better at casing in but my confidence is less a hindrance than before. I cased in four books this weekend but two were a new binding for me: the dos-a-dos. Here is the first one.

One cover has red and gold Chinese writing (meaning 'Good Fortune') and  nine signatures of five sheets each for a total of 180 pages. With a black bookmark and headbands made out of the same paper as the paper used on the other cover. Both books are A6 in size (pocketbook size or 41/2" by 6+" for you Americans). It took my bookbinding teacher and I a few minutes to figure out how to apply the cover papers but we worked it out quite nicely, I think.

Nepal2.jpgThe other book has Nepalese writing on it, I think. It has eleven signatures of five sheets for 220 pages. It has a red bookmark and headbands that are made of the same papers as the paper used on the other cover. My teacher's idea, by the way.

What did I learn about this experience? A few things. First, it's nice, frustrating, exciting, and rewarding to push my personal envelope. Second, gluing the top paper to the bottom paper is better than the opposite. If you glue the bottom paper first, you're not going to get the edges of top paper glued properly. Third, it would be nice to have two brains. Fourth, more time to make more books would be a real confidence builder. And maybe competence at the same time.

Speaking of competence, the interview on this episode is with my bookbinding teacher: Masayo Wakai of MameHonKobo- Wakai. Here, very roughly, is a translation of the interview. Very rough, so if you're a talented Japanese-English translator, don't judge me too harshly.

When did you first become interested in bookbinding?

About seven years ago.

What was the first book you made?

About 20 years ago I made a book about color for an art class I was taking in college.

Did you make any books between 20 years ago and seven years ago?


How long did it take from the first book you made to the first good book you made?

About six months. I got a book about bookbinding and studied it while I made a book. I would make three books in one day.

When did you start selling your books at craft fairs?

About two years ago.

What advice do you have for people who are interested in bookbinding as a hobby?

Start making books and study what you made. If you study it you will find what is good and what is bad. Eventually, you will get better and better at making books.

Thanks for listening. Next week: The Second Dos-A-Dos book.


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2013 Schedule Front.jpgA few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit on a moving train for nine hours. Twice. I took the opportunity to sew five text blocks; two on the way up and three on the way back. Last weekend I spent a half a day in my stationary house and cased three of them in.

Three schedules/diaries/calendars with monthly calendars from January 2013 to March 2014 plus two yearly calendars for 2013 and 2014. There are nine signatures of four pages each for a total of 144 pages. 101 pages are lined for journal keeping. There are also about eleven pictures of Kanazawa included and one, the mompei blue one, has English-Japanese translations of a variety of words and phrases. They are A6 in size - 41/2 inches by 6 inches for my American friends.

Schedule 2013 Back.jpgThe mompei-blue one has brown pages while the other two have your standard white pages. The page numbers are extraordinarily large compared with normal journals. I did this because I thought it would be fun and it would be easy to remember what page you wrote something on. If you can't remember, there is also a bookmark in the red one and the white one.

Here's the skinny on the covers. I cut the numbers out of the bookcloth. Then I glued the paper on the book board for the numbers. Then I glued the bookcloth on the book board with the numbers over the paper.

Schedule 2012 open.pngOne thing I learned on both the train ride and the weekend was that doing one thing repeatedly is a good way to get better at it. I believe it's called practice. I wish I had more time to practice but while on the train I found that I could sew one nine-signature text block in about an hour. I sewed on book in 45 minutes; a personal best. I tried to time myself on casing in but I kept getting interrupted by life. However, rough estimate puts casing in - including measuring and cutting the book cloth, measuring and cutting the cutouts for the numbers, gluing the inside paper, gluing the book cloth, gluing the endpapers, and pressing - at about three hours. I definitely need more practice casing in. Fortunately, I have eight more text blocks that need to be cased in.

If you would like one of these, email:


and let me know. I think I could let them go for ten bucks each. (That's about 55 cents (US)/hour on the train. Too cheap, eh?)

Audio up!


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