Book Making – Japanese Stab Binding

Traditional Japanese bindings are side-sewn, and large books are divided down into slim volumes which are printed on thin kozo paper, and the volumes are collected in a custom-sized case. Covers are soft-side.

“Westernized” books use single sheets of paper, and because it’s thicker there isn’t a problem with ink bleeding through the pages when you write on them. Often covers are hard-sided.

Assignment 1 – Mosaic Covers Using mosaic paper tiles create a mosaic (on black paper) based on the pollinator images provided. This will be used for your book’s cover art. Be sure to keep a 1″ left margin free of mosaic for binding purposes later.

Assignment 2 – Book Binding  Collect 8 sheets (of filler paper) and your laminated mosaic (cut in half). Observe the demonstration in studio and repeat. 

Use safety instructions when using the awl and needles.

1. Using your ruler and a pencil, mark four sewing stations. The four sewing stations are at least 1/2″ from the spine edge. Station 1 is at least 1/2″ up from the tail; Station 4 is at least 1/2″ from the head. (I marked mine 1″ from the tail and the head.) Stations 2 and 3 are equally spaced between.

2. Place a block of wood under your book where your binding will go. Using your awl, pierce through the pages at the sewing stations (into the wood block). Piercing through this book block is a bit of a challenge. Just watch your fingers!

3. Thread you needle. Knot it leaving a tail.

4. To bind: Begin at Station 2 (back cover side). Pull your needle through Station 2. Pull snug.

Additional Resources

Japanese Bookbinding: Instructions from a Master Craftsman by Kojiro Ikegami (available in English and Japanese) gives easy-to-follow instructions for making all the major, historically important Japanese bindings.