Zen and the Art of Bookbinding


Old earth

Back in April, I wandered into Singapore artist Tang Da Wu’s exhibition called “Earth Work 1979” at National Gallery Singapore and discovered this series of ethereal artworks called “One Hundred Percent Old Earth”.


Tang Da Wu’s earthwork “One Hundred Percent Old Earth” at Singapore Art Gallery.

Their beautiful “stained” surfaces and simple colour combinations gave me an idea.

It was at the back of my head until last week, when I finally got to do something about it.

Start in the kitchen

Work started in the kitchen, with watercolour paper, pigment, ink and water.



Start with some colour.




Then add some black ink. Let soak…



Let it be.


Emerging patterns

I made several sheets and set them aside to dry when the bleeding action had stopped.

Then, to create a symmetrical pattern, I joined pieces of the paper bottom-to-bottom.

The symmetry in Tang Da Wu’s pieces gave them balance and wholeness, and I tried to achieve a similar effect.


Cut and joined.



What does this look like to you?

Like in a Rorschach test, you can see things in these random patterns.

Visuals and ideas

I had earlier mixed in some green pigment. Although it was overwhelmed by the black ink subsequently, traces of green remained along the bottom edges of the paper.

After deciding on four-hole stab binding, I divided up my stock of papers for stitching.


What is this about?



A light green thread to match.






A few more — same but different.



It is what it is.



More experiment: Perhaps another colour? Or some other bookbinding technique?


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