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Patience is Everything, Rilke

In 2010, my friend Tara O’Brien and I gave a workshop on Japanese Binding at the Philadelphia SGC Conference. Check out our handout to learn more: SGC Handout_Japanese Stap Binding

We posed a number of questions and comments for those who might consider using this structure to house their prints.

Why use this structure?

When choosing a book structure to house prints it’s important to think about how the content informs the structure. What are your prints trying to communicate? What medium have you chosen? What is your color palette? You probably asked these questions and others as you crafted the images. The same intention must be given to the book structure as well. An Asian book structure comes loaded with intention and meaning that may or may not be appropriate to your content. You see the structure of the book first, you don’t see the prints. So already, you have set your viewer up for some sort of experience that you may or may not want to offer them. Some images work best in accordion-style books, others are better in drum-leaf or pamphlet style books. Ask yourself, why a stab-binding? How does your content relate to this structure?

This binding typically opens from right to left, the reverse of western style books.

How best is it used? This style of binding was originally used as a cheap and easy way to bind pages of text, novels—not images. Keep this in mind. There’s a heft to these books of multi-pages in their original form. Consider this when choosing this structure. They also have a movement to them which western styles books don’t have. The dimensions of these books enhance this movement, which is why they have a particular proportional ratio. How does this complement the content of your prints?

Patience is Everything, Japanese Stab Binding book, 2010

Patience is Everything, Japanese Stab Binding book, 2010


I made an example to go along with the workshop. It is found on the right, and opens from the back, at least for a western reader. Here are the images–very sparse, very quiet. OR, click on this link for the PDF experience of the book. Rilke_Asian_Binding

Patience is Everything, Rainer Maria Rilke
Japanese Stab Book with inkjet pages and handmade paper cover
7 5/8 x 5 3/8 inches
This is a small edition, maybe 10 or so remaining.

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