First Attempt at Japanese Four-Hole Binding, and a Book Review

Today I made my very first attempt at a Japanese four-hole stab binding, and it worked!  Okay, so it’s not rocket science – but it’s nice when something works on the first try!

This was still a very rough draft.  I want to clean up and tighten the lines of the stitches, and get a bigger awl (for punching those holes):  The one I have was quite a bit too small.  I improvised with a nail, which worked but resulted in the cover getting a little beat up.

Once I’m satisfied with the results, I’ll offer this binding over at Looseleaf Handcrafted Stories, using handmade paper for the covers.  I’m planning on adding some fancier stab bindings as I get more comfortable with them.  Meanwhile, I’m playing around with the text layout:  I’m thinking of using a portrait layout, with the bound edge at the top.

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The page you see beneath my “rough draft” in the photo above is from Erin Zamrzla’s At Home with Handmade Books: 28 Extraordinary Bookbinding Projects Made from Ordinary and Repurposed Materials.  Like pretty much everything Shambhala Publications puts out, this book is a joy just to hold and page through.  The photographs are beautiful:  They’re artistic but also let you clearly see the project pictured.  The text is clear and friendly, and the instructions for Japanese stab bindings are stellar.  Illustrations help break down the steps for these bindings, making them clear and accessible.

I love how imaginative Zamrzla’s projects are, and what a wide range of materials she includes.  My only complaint when it comes to my own personal use is that some of the projects are a little…Martha Stewart-esque.  I’m just never going to make a “my favorite cleaning recipes” book with a sponge for a cover. an unfolding flower note, or a sewing notions pincushion book.  Still, while many of her specific projects aren’t for me, they do inspire me to consider what crazy, creative types of books could be made out of repurposed materials.

The verdict?  I’m psyched to have this book.  I’m actively enjoying it, and it has a long-term home on my shelf.