Japanese Book Structures

I just finished a fascinating class on paper making and book structures, and I hope to be posting some pictures of some of my final projects over the next few days.  To begin with, here are a few glamor shots of a small Japanese 4-hole style stab bound sketchbook, along with a few of the sewing models. Follow the picture above to some other images.

Each of these sewings is based on 4 simple holes stabbed through the book block (hence the name).  In Japanese this method is called yotsume toji (四つ目綴じ).  The pattern used on the final book is called the tortoise shell.  The design is based on Kōjirō Ikegami's book Japanese Book Binding.  Although it looks very strong, this treatment is basically decorative.  The pages themselves are held together by other means.  In fact, it is common practice for these bindings and decorative covers to be cut off of old books and replaced regularly as they wear out.  Because the covers are soft the book is fairly floppy, and this is a must because the binding is ridged, and does not allow the book to lay flat.

The pages of the book are separate leaves like in a western style book, however, they are folded at the fore-edge, making each page double thickness.  This allows a blotter sheet to be slipped between pages while writing in ink to prevent bleed through.  Clever, don't you think?

I used basic sumi-style rice-paper for the book block, and decorative printed paper for the covers.  You'll also notice some red coloring on the head and tail of the spine.  These are small squares of backed fabric folded over the corners for added strength.