Japanese stab binding
Book binding has been on my list of things to try, and I booked a workshop conducted by Based Book Arts to learn japanese stab binding on a recent public holiday.
It was held at Furama Riverfront, at a space around at the Waterfall Lounge, where there was a beautiful view of lush greenery and a waterfall behind tall glass panels. It was perfect setting for a meditative afternoon of book binding.
We learnt four different variations of japanese stab binding: 4-Hole, Hemp Leaf, Noble, and Tortoise Shell. We had a lovely range of coloured paper to choose from to use as book covers. I changed my mind a few times, but finally landed at colours that represent the four seasons (to me).
Before the stabbing and stitching, we learnt to fold the sheets of paper for the inside of the books using a bone folder. I found this step quite meditative, and enjoyed it.
The four different stitch variations were incrementally more complex. This was great because it helped to build a basic understanding of the logic of the stitches, and by the last couple of books where there were more holes, it was much easier to figure out the sequence of which holes to sew through.
It was a lovely quiet afternoon spending a few hours learning how to make the books.
Shihui was a super patient instructor, and also shared about her journey into book-binding. She explained that one of the first few questions explored in the course was to think about what a book is, and how books have evolved over time.
Here are a few more photos of my final products: red for blossoms and blooms in Spring, green for lush greenery in Summer, beige for the transition to Fall colours, and Blue for winter (I used a light blue on one side, and a darker blue on the other side)
Details of the workshop
Duration: 3.5 hours
Price: $120, booked on The Provisions website (where I first saw the ad), but you can also find the workshop (and other bookbinding workshops) on Based Book Arts's website. The price includes all materials required to make four books, which you get to bring home. The session also comes with a snack and a drink, and a 15% discount on some F&B at the hotel.
Level of "fun": 4/5
I realized that my definition of fun usually involves having a variety of "actions" involved in the making of something. For this japanese stab binding experience, I particularly enjoyed the mediative and thoughtfulness aspect of folding the pages with a bone folder, and also the stitching of the books (especially, when it almost became second nature to know the "path" the thread should go to form the desired pattern).
Level of difficulty: 2/5
It was quite easy to do, and Shihui was always there to help and check in case we weren't sure of the next steps. I can see how the level of difficulty will increase when you want to make the book more perfect - when all sheets must align perfectly, when you want the "stab holes" to be flatter, and for the stitches to be tight enough, yet not overly tight (that it "squeezes" the book ends). There are some similarities if you've hand-stitched leather before (e.g. the same waxed linen thread). As a first timer trying book binding, I found it and easy and comfortable workshop :)