Trial and Error Through Stab-Book Binding

When I learned that we’d actually be making books in class, I quickly became intimidated by the course. Even one of the simplest ways of bookbinding appeared to be one of the most difficult concepts in the world, and naturally, I grew nervous at my performance in the class. Thankfully, the feeling didn’t last. 

            Creating a book using the Japanese stab book binding technique became the first assignment in the course, one that threw me for a loop initially. On the first day of learning about the concept, I grew weary. I didn’t understand how to loop the thread this way and that to bind it all together, how to make pretty patterns, how to tighten the string in just the right manner; I could barely thread the waxy string through the eye of a needle, and now I was expected to bind books and craft designs together? After the first day, to say many clouds of discouragement and nerves loomed over head would’ve been an understatement. 

            I refused to give up though. I googled different patterns, ones that were simple and manageable to craft, watched YouTube tutorials and time-lapses, and learned what I could before I’d be expected to try my hand at stab binding once more.

(If you need some good sources yourself, I found some good ones here!

Both are incredible tutorials that aided me a lot in in making my book, and they’re really easy to follow!)

The day came, and I successfully made my first book. Granted, I did spend most of my time attempting to thread the string through the needle, as it kept fraying and refused to go through the eye, but that’s to be expected when I’ve barely sewed. 

A photo taken by me of the spine of my book bound with the stab-book binding technique.

Of course, the project wasn’t without its goofs. A lot of my time at the end was spent attempting to untie my final knot, for I’d tied it in a way that left the binding too loose. I also had to go back and repeat a step or two in the beginning, for I hadn’t quite figured out the process just yet. I kept poking myself with the needle over and over too, since I wasn’t sure where it would pop out when binding, but If I can survive cutting my hand on glass over and over in a different class, I’ll live if I happen to poke myself with a needle once or twice; you do what you must for the arts, after all.

A photo taken by me of my final project using the stab-book binding technique.

Now, is the book I made anything amazing? Not really, but it’s a book, and it’s mine; I successfully made something I never had before, and that’s what counts. It’s something I can call my own and be proud of at the end of the day, and that’s all that really matters to me. I can work on honing my craft or improving when it comes to the next project.  

3 thoughts on “Trial and Error Through Stab-Book Binding”

  1. I’m so glad you persevered! To try your hand at a new skill is no little thing, and goofs are, unfortunately, a really important part of the learning process. Thanks for these links to the tutorials you used–I’m sure they’ll be helpful to others! Hope this foray into the material dimension of the book as ‘bound paper’ adds something new to how you look at books.

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  2. I love how you began your blog by sharing your initial experience of stab binding with your readers. As I read through your blog, I realized how my initial experience with this project was similar to yours. In addition, I like how you share your bookbinding experience with us (even the ups and downs) in a very encouraging and humorous way.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading about your experience with bookbinding. It’s interesting to see your finished product knowing the perseverance required to make it. I also really like how the pages of your book have the rough edges to them. It brings a worn and rustic look that shows off the book almost in a different way.

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