Category Archives: Bookbinding

The Art of Suminagashi

Suminagashi (“ink floating” or “flowing ink paper”) is the earliest form of Japanese marbling that originated over a 1,000 years ago. Today I attended the 3-hour suminagashi workshop offered by Candace Thayer-Coe in partnership with CBBAG Lower mainland.

The tools are pretty simple. You need a suminagashi marbling kit, rice paper, brushes, big shallow water containers, a piece of plywood.

Suminagashi Suminagashi

The technique is pretty simple. Holding two brushes filled with two different colours, you dip the tip of the brush on the water surface, one hand after the other. The ink creates a circle that floats on water. And you keep alternating hands, in a continuous motion. It’s very meditative.

Suminagashi Suminagashi

One you’ve done enough circles and the surface is filled with ink, you can either place a piece of paper right away to lift the design.

Suminagashi Suminagashi

Or you could chose to modify the design by:

  • blowing gently on it
  • using a fan


  • or using a piece of your hair to drag the ink.

The hair technique quickly became our favorite methods and was well worth the ‘hair sacrifice’ and the pain from pulling one’s hair.

Suminagashi Suminagashi

Suminagashi  Suminagashi

What surprised us the most was how quickly the design would change. We were creating circles until we were satisfied with the design.

Suminagashi Suminagashi

But by the time you came back from getting a sheet of rice paper, the design was completely different.  The circles had expanded to create marbling shapes.

Suminagashi Suminagashi

The transformation was part of the process. We just had to accept it.

Suminagashi Suminagashi  Suminagashi

The teacher gave us a frame so we could display our artwork.

Suminagashi Suminagashi

It was a fun afternoon. Considering a marbling kit cost less than $20, I would probably do some again.

Suminagashi    Suminagashi

Here are more photos from the class:

Suminagashi Suminagashi  Suminagashi Suminagashi  Suminagashi Suminagashi


How to make an accordion book with cover tied by a ribbon (tutorial)

Would you like to learn how to make an accordion book with a cover  like this? Then, just follow this simple tutorial. It only takes 15 minutes to make one!





  • Cardstock (for the cover): 9cm X 17cm
  • Construction paper (for the pages): 9X12 in
  • Ribbon: 1/8mm works well.
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Rulers.

Let’s get started.


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1. Position your construction paper like this. Measure and draw a line at 3 inches mark.

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2. Fold the page to the 3 inches mark. You made a first crease.

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3. Fold the page to the 3 inch crease. Your paper now has 2 creases.

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4. Fold the paper in half like this. This is the result.

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5. Fold the bottom to the middle crease. This is the result.

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6. Fold the top to the middle crease. This is the result.

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6. Position your paper like this. Fold the two sides to the middle.

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7. This is the result. Squeeze the paper so the middle crease does a mountain fold. The result should be a “W”.

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8. Here’s another view of the accordion fold you should have now.

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9. Position your paper like this. Draw a thin line (illustrated here by a strip of paper) over three or the four squares in opposite direction. Here, on the first row, we are cutting square 2-4 ; on the second row, we are cutting 1-3.

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10. Cut each line (do not cut the last square!!!). This is the result.

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11. Start folding the book.  If you folded correctly. The book should fold itself.  (Now can you see why they call this a maze book?)

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12. You’ll end up with a square of paper. Hold the middle of the package. If you end up with a “bird” with two flaps like this, you folded correctly. The flaps will be the end paper of your book.

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13. Take your cover (9X17cm). Measure a ribbon 3 times the lenght of the book (3X17cm).

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14. Apply a line of glue in the centr eof the book, lenghtwise. Go to the very edge. Position your book. Glue the top page (this will be your end paper).

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15. Now glue the other flap. Your book is finished!


16. Tie the ribbon. You are now ready to decorate your book with collage or rubber stamps. For example on how to decorate your book see this blog post:

Sakura Days Japan Fair Bookmaking workshop.

Bookmaking workshop at Sakura Days Japan Fair

On April 11 and April 12, 2015, between 2-3pm, I gave a bookmaking workshop at Sakura Days Japan Fair, as part of the activities in the Leith Wheeler Haiku House. The event took place in the glasshouse of the Van Dusen Garden.

 I showed about 30 people each day how to make a maze book with a cover tied by a ribbon. Then, participants decorated their book with collage using Japanese paper and rubber stamps. It was so much fun!

Missed the class? Here’s a tutorial.

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Japanese rubber stamps

When someone offers to loan you their Japanese rubber stamps collection, you say: “Yes, ma’am. Thank you, Ma’am” and you stamp, stamp, stamp away! You can’t believe your luck.

These lovely stamps were loaned to me by haiku poet and book artist Terry Ann Carter for the upcoming haiku and bookmaking workshop at Kerrisdale community centre.

I created these lovely images we’ll be able to use a the workshop (it will be handy to have pre-decorated pieces of paper in case we are short on time).

In the process, I accidentally stamped the tip of my index. A cute little face was printed on my fingertip. Check this out:

The face belonged to the geisha stamp. This one:

I think people at the workshop will have lots of fun using these stamps.

I know I did.

At the Sunday April 26 workshop, we’ll learn about haiku, then we’ll create a small notebook to write haiku poems. The workshop is free, but you might want to reserve your seat on the VCBF website.

Haiku Bookmaking workshop

No. This is not a color wheel.

These are the colorful little books I’ll be teaching people how to make at my next workshop.

The material is pretty simple:  9″X12″ construction paper (folded as a maze), cardstock, ribbon.

Once our books are done, we will be decorating them with chiyogami paper and rubber stamps.

These books fit in your pocket so they are perfect to bring on a ginko. A ginko is a walk haiku poets are doing in nature to find inspiration to write haiku.


If you want to lean to make a little book, I’ll be teaching the technique:

  • Saturday April 11 2015, 2-3pm, during Sakura Days Japan Fair at the Van Dusen Garden. Find us in the glasshouse.  Workshop is free, but garden entrance fee still apply. Buy your tickets online to avoid long queues.
  • Sunday April 12 2015, 2-3pm, during Sakura Days Japan Fair at the Van Dusen Garden. Find us in the glasshouse.  Workshop is free, but garden entrance fee still apply. Buy your tickets online to avoid long queues.
  • Sunday April 26 2015, 1.20-2pm at Kerrisdale Community Centre (go to for more details and pre-registration). Free events. ****PSS. If you are interested in haiku, come at 12.20-1.20 for a free haiku workshop.***

How to make a portfolio

We learned how to make this beautiful portfolio during a CBBAG workshop lead by Suzan Lee.

I took some pictures of the process so I can remember the instructions.

What you’ll need:

  • two bookboards
  • clothe to cover spine (outside and inside)
  • paper for the outside
  • paper for the inside
  • ribbon
  • glue stick
  • pva glue and brush

Glue the spine clothe and attach the book boards.

This is the result.

Choose your paper for the cover.

Glue the paper to the board (paper should overlap the spine cloth by 1 cm or so).

This is the result.

Cut two pieces of ribbon measuring (same height as the spine).

About 1.25 in from the side, use a chisel and hammer  (or exacto knife) to cut a slit in the booarboard the same width as the ribbon (we’ll insert the ribbon through this slit).

Insert the ribbon by pushing it in the slit with a thin spatula.

This spatula is super thin.

Glue about 1inch of the ribbon to the board.

Glue the inner spine (this piece should be slightly shorter than the outside spine).

This is the result.

You can create a ledge to hold paper so they don’t fall off the portfolio. Glue the ledge about 5mm from the edge.

Measure and cut the excess end paper.

Your portfolio is finished!

Thanks to Suzan Lee for a wonderful class and instructions.

The key to mastering coptic binding is to practice a lot, using whatever material you have at hand.

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For this coptic bookbinding project, I used Japanese playing cards as covers and regular photocopy paper for the signatures.

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In coptic binding, the middle stitches will be chains and the end stiches will be half-chains.

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What I love about coptic binding is that the pages of the book open flat (which makes it perfect for jotting notes or sketching).

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My books are the size of playing cards (less than 10 cm tall).

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You can experiment with coptic binding on various sizes.

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Have fun!

Altered Book Triangle Fold Tutorial

Do you  love origami and paper folding?  Then try this altered book technique and you’ll get to fold a whole book!

After watching this altered book video tutorial by Johwey Redington, I decided to try the basic book sculpture: triangle fold.


Altered Book Triangle Fold Tutorial

by Jessica Tremblay


What you’ll need

– a book (hardcover or paperback)

– a bone folder (*optional*) to help you crease the pages



Folding the first half

1. Open the book in the middle.

Tip:To find the middle, take your total page count and divide it by two. 

(My book was 350 pages, so I opened the book to page 175.)


2. Position the book so the bottom is to your LEFT and fold the left corner.  Use a bone folder to crease the fold.)

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3. Fold the right corner to make a triangle. Use a bone folder to crease the fold.

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4. Continue folding pages until the desired amounts of triangles (some people fold all the pages, other people like to leave some pages).

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5. When you’ve folded enough pages (or all of them), find your middle page and flip the book so the bottom is now to your RIGHT.

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Folding the second half

*Make sure the bottom of the book is to your RIGHT*

6. Fold the right corner.  Use a bone folder to crease the page.

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7. Fold the left corner. Use a bone folder to crease the page.

8. Keep making triangles. (Fold the same amount of pages for each half of the book.)

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How many pages should I fold?

It’s up to you how many pages you want to fold.  You may want to have a small book structure, or take advantage of a beautiful illustration in your book (left photo) or you can continue folding pages to give your book sculpture more volume (right photo).

Other options: you can also fold ALL the pages. You can also remove the cover.

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 Display ideas

You can display the altered book in a corner of your bookcase or lay it flat on a table.

Once, at an art show, I saw an artist use this type of altered book to hold her business cards. Although she was not selling altered books (she was a jewellery designer), her book structure was a showstopper. People were drawn to her table: it was a real conversation starter.

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Enjoy your new book structure!

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All photos by Jessica Tremblay. All Rights Reserved.