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”.

1ZenTangDaWuSingaporeArtGalleryBukurama

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.

 

3BukuramaZenBookbindingGreenWatercolour

Start with some colour.

 

 

5BukuramaZenBookbindingDyeKitchen

Then add some black ink. Let soak…

 

4BukuramaZenBookbindingDyeInkCloseup

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.

7BukuramaZenBookbindingSheetSmall

Cut and joined.

 

6BukuramaZenBookbindingSheet

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.

8BukuramaZenBookbindingDyeTrimCloseup

What is this about?

 

9BukuramaZenBookbindingComponents

A light green thread to match.

 

10BukuramaZenBookbindingFinalOne

Done.

 

11BukuramaZenBookbindingFinalSet

A few more — same but different.

 

12BukuramaZenBookbindingFaceJoined

It is what it is.

 

 

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

•••

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