LensWork Publication Skills Grant

Past Winner

LensWork Publication Skills Grant - Acquiring Japanese Bookbinding Skills

Stephen Cairns - Gifu, Japan

Ifd like to learn Japanese bookbinding skills as I work toward the presentation of my various ongoing projects. In particular, Ifd like to learn two Edo period presentation and archival approaches that are seldom taught today: how to make a gchitsuh and a gmeotobakoh - both of which are means of collecting and protecting loose pages for archival purposes. My intention is customize the processes to make Japanese-style folios for collections of unbound images.

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Ifm a middle school English teacher in Japan through the work week and an ardent black and white photographer outside of work. My ongoing projects include images of Lake Biwa, the rocky shore of the Fukui coastline, and a small series about Myojyoji temple, the head temple of the Nichiren sect in the Hokuriku area. Ifd like to learn Japanese bookbinding skills as I work toward presentation of these projects. In particular, Ifd like to learn two Edo period presentation and archival approaches that are seldom taught today: how to make a gchitsuh and a gmeotobakoh - both of which are means of collecting and protecting loose pages for archival purposes. My intention is customize the processes to make Japanese-style folios for collections of unbound images.

The grant will be used to cover the expense of traveling the monthly 800km round trip to Tokyo to study Japanese bookbinding techniques in workshops held on the fourth Sunday of every month. The classes are part of an ongoing and comprehensive hands-on training offered by the Marumizu group - a shop dedicated to the sale of handmade bookbinding products that has also offered intensive instruction in the little-practiced art since 2007. The morning workshop begins at 9:30am which necessitates travel by bullet train as I live in Gifu. The round trip is \20 000. The 24 class introductory course can be completed in 12 visits by doing two workshops per visit. The introductory course is 24 classes long, begins in April, and is limited to six students.

The course is roughly arranged into four sections: an introduction to Japanese bookbinding; traditional Japanese stitching techniques; methods for making cases and book coverings; and western-style stitching techniques. At the end of the 24 classes Ifll have learned three classic Japanese stab stitches: Yotsume toji (four hole binding), Kikou toji (tortoiseshell binding), and Asanoha toji (Hemp leaf binding). Ifll have also learned German-influenced album making, and French-link stitching. These stitching techniques can be used to make a variety of artists books.

As Ifm most interested in small hand-held prints and ways of presenting them, the fact that Ifll also be studying how to make Japanese gchitsuh () and gmeotobakoh (vw) is especially exciting. gChitsuh is a kind of folding case which is intended to wrap around a collection of small notebooks. The technique can be easily adapted to collect a folio of images, particularly if one were to make a gshihouchitsuh (l) - a four flapped cover. The gmeotobakoh (vw), while intended to hold larger or fragile books, can be easily adapted to hold a small bound edition with a series of loose prints or as a different means of presenting a collection of loose images.

The techniques learned in this course will provide the foundation from which Ifll be able to bring my current and future projects to a beautiful completion.



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