There’s something satisfying in working with your hands after a long day or week of working with, what feels like, exclusively your mind. And there’s something hypnotizing about watching someone else work with their hands as well, as I discovered when watching a YouTube time-lapse video on bookbinding over this past weekend [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9P07WAbYHs]. Though our class has so far worked exclusively with paperback books, I found the techniques I observed in this video to be illuminating for my own work on my own Japanese Stab Binding Books, as well as how to adapt my earlier understandings of stitching and paper folding to this new art.
Something that always stuck out to me about stitching and paper folding is the mathematical art of symmetry. The Basic Japanese Stab Binding technique expresses a simple symmetrical pattern achieved through symmetrical action in stitching. The repetitive and reversible patterns made it easy to adapt the technique to other designs, whether in stitching or in the shape of paper. As I stitched the binding of my book, all I could think about how this basic stitching would resemble the combined graphs of the sine and cosine functions with the holes as the critical points. I guess the trigonometric functions stuck with me better than I thought.
Still, my high school experience with kirigami, or, as I like to call it, the art of making paper snowflakes, allowed me to see the potential modifications I could take with paper shape. Though folding a 45 degree angle against the grain is frustrating, I managed to rip enough sheets to make my triangular book, stitched together with the basic stab binding. Finding the symmetrical points to make the holes took an extra step of thinking, as a pleated triangle isn’t really a thing, but I managed without too much difficultly. It only occurred afterwards that I could have used a ruler.
The methodical nature of paper folding and stitching makes it easy for me to blissfully lose myself in the repetition, but it also makes alternative stitch patterns easy to identify and recreate for me. It’s comforting to know that I can change the paper type and shape, the number of holes, and the stitching pattern itself and still be able to make an adequate book binding.