Making Book Again

Four years ago last January I had the pleasure of spending a morning in the Bonshaw Hills taking a class in Japanese bookbinding from Jennifer Brown. It was great fun, and it gave me the skills and the inspiration to undertake many of the paper-related projects I’ve taken on in the years since.

This week, librarians from across Atlantic Canada are gathering here in Charlottetown for the annual conference of the Atlantic Provinces Library Association, and today, thanks to the efforts of Trina O’Brien Leggott, Jennifer gave an extended play version of the same class as a pre-conference workshop. I signed up as soon as it was announced, as I was eager to spend more time with Jennifer: she has an infectious creativity, and a patient way of explaining complicated things.

We started the day by making an accordion-fold book: we took two pieces of equal-sized stiff cardboard, covered them with paper, and then glued folded rice paper between them. Closed, mine looked like this:

Japanese Bound Book

Open, it looked like this:

Accordion book open

Next we turned to books bound with external stitching, which incorporates a bit of “up, across, through, across” sewing magic that I re-learned and hope, this time, to retain. I used a piece of stiff wallpaper sample as my cover, and bright red thread to sew it together, and then applied a label from a discarded package of Japanese paper to the front:

Sewn Book

Books with the sewing on the inside finished up the day. I started by making a book covered with a sheet of handmade paper that Catherine and Oliver made together many years ago:

Handmade paper book

Inside handmade paper book

At this point Jennifer’s attention turned to giving the librarians present suggestions for easy-to-make books for children, books that, it turned out, involve exactly the kind of three dimensional thinking my brain is poor at, so I diverted to making books out of tea bags (after realizing that, contained in each tea bag and wrapping, is all one needs to make a book):

A deconstructed tea bag

Truth be told, the amount of thread attached to the tea bag wasn’t enough to sew the book together, but otherwise everything came from the source: the tea bag, emptied of tea and carefully separated, was the paper, the wrapper was the cover, I sewed it together with some embroidery thread, and the tea bag tag, unfolded, is a handy bookmark:

Tea Bag Book

Should you ever have the chance to take one of Jennifer’s workshops, I highly recommend you do: it was a day well-spent, immersed in great fun and creativity in the company of an interesting group of people led by a skilled educator.