i guess it's time for another update. although i can hardly find time to sit down and write it. so many things have happened since the last post, and right now i should be back at the gallery test printing. well, i needed a coffee and so i've ended up at starbucks in the skytree (not due to the quality coffee, but rather the free wifi).
paper and test printing
i have been incredibly busy the last week. while i was not expecting handmade book-making to be easy, i seem to continuously run into new challenges that need to be overcome. while printing in denmark leaves you with little choice of paper to choose from, this is not the case in japan... in fact i find myself rather overwhelmed. last week i went back to takeo paper shop to look for paper. i posted earlier all the multitudes of great paper they have in that shop, but after spending the better part of an hour i finally departed the store with 10 different kinds i wanted to test. all within the white/eggshell color scale, from thick to very thin. all in a4 size and with two sheets of each. i think it cost me around 1500 yen (10 euro) - very reasonable i think. but come on, 10 sheets of paper doesn't even begin to cut it..
thus, i ventured off to ginza, where i had been told that another japanese paper maker, oji, has a store. the rumors go that you can actually take all the sample paper you want for free (they have printed facts and test prints on one of the sides, but the opposite side is free to test print your own stuff). anyway, who gets anything for free these days, so i thought it was definitely worth a visit. as it turns out, the store wasn't a store, rather it was oji's administrative HQs in a fully owned oji high rise. although a little intimidating to enter, i quickly found myself in the reception of this pretty awesome looking office building. here all of oji's 100s of different types of papers were available in drawers. please go ahead and take as many as you like. i think i snatched around 50 different types, as i thought it could also make good referencing in the future. out of these 50 sheets of paper, i couldn't really tell you the difference of many of them, but there are some that are glossy, some are matte, some are glossy on verso and matte on recto and vice versa. some weigh 40 grams and some 90 grams, so you see, the options truly are endless.
i thought that now i had spent a day securing all my test paper, all i needed to do was a couple of test prints to see which looked the best, and then just go and buy that kind. no no no no, think again. today i went to kinko's printing services to do so. firstly they screwed up my double sided prints, so that two images were printed on top of each other rather than recto/verso. remember i only have two sheets of each kind of takeo paper, so one sheet was lost. their fault. i gave them sheet number two. they print them, it looks horrible. why? they are using laser jet printers obviously (read about the difference between laser and inkjet printing here), and it doesn't penetrate the paper properly. my own fault. so now i have no paper left and no useable prints to judge from. after that experience i needed a coffee and that is why i am currently sitting at starbucks.
what will you do then? you might ask. well, here is my game plan. i am going back to the gallery to use the gallery's inkjet printer to print the recto pages on the pages kinko's screwed up and see how it works out. then, i'll probably rely on my gut to take me the rest of the way. i'll get back to you on that.
update! i printed on the back pages and it looks much better than kinko's - so now i've managed to cut down on paper and will choose between my 4 favorites for the b/w printing.
another thing i have been trying to figure out is which kind of binding i want on the book. here's the tricky part, my book doesn't give a shit about what i want. instead it is about what is feasible and doable. yumi-san of reminders photography stronghold has been a great advisor, spending amble time with me discussing what can be done and what will work the best. to start with i really wanted some kind of stitch binding, but because my pages are japanese folded (fold a piece of a4 into an a5 and have the binding of the book be in the end of the opening - really it's the opposite of normal pages and you kind of get two hidden pages. however, it is not possible to stitch them traditionally. since there is no reason for my book to be japanese stitched and a japanese stitching would result in the margin eating about 1 cm of the book, which i'm not interested in, i won't do that either. eventually yumi-san and i ended with glue binding probably being the best option, and we decided to try it on one of my dummies. however, yes there is a however, because my book consists of different types of pages i.e. japanese folded pages in a5, a4 pages as well as normal a5 pages, the glue binder told us that the result may not be satisfactory and thus was reluctant to do it. we were invited out to his small factory (douchi-do, murayama book binding) to see the process, so we could better understand why he was hesitant. sunday morning, yumi-san and i biked through eastern-tokyo to get to the small factory, where we should try to glue my dummy. it was a simple process, but with a lot of steps. one would normally cut all four sides of the pages of the book at the same time to get them even and completely straight for gluing. because of the many page formats in my book this cannot be done, and only the side where the glue was to be put was cut. the end result looks pretty good anyway, and i'm sure that when it is the final copy and not just a dummy made with copy paper, it will look even better. one thing to keep in mind though, is that the glue might work differently depending on the paper type I use. that means that while the copy paper works fine, it might not end up working as well on my chosen paper. yes i know, it is a continous battle to get this right.
i just have to mention though that this guy, who did the glue binding was absolutely amazing. not only did he glue my dummies for free, he also made two notebooks for me while we waited for my glue to dry and gave us samples of both glue, mesh and tape to take home, so we could experiment with the glue binding ourselves at the gallery. totally worth spending sunday morning this way, and once more i am humbled by the warmth and service level of the japanese!! plus as you can see from the pictures below, a lot of the glue binding process is still made by hand at his factory. pretty cool!
all the other stuff
the past week i also visited a printer that can make blueprints from drawings and copies. it looks pretty awesome, so i got my architectural drawings made as a blueprint, as well as my 'blondes in denim shirts' grid (that doesn't look as awesome as the architecture drawings though). i also visited my next stop in tokyo - 3331 arts chiyoda - to have my first meeting with the staff, who will help me out during my residency. this i do not doubt will be an equally amazing experience as the bookmaking workshop has been so far. i am learning a bunch and feeling very inspired. the area i live in (sumida) is old tokyo, cultural and historical - apparently i'm right in the middle of an old red light district - many old, traditional japanese houses and small shops, restaurants and factories.
i haven't been anything but happy for the past 3.5 weeks, while i've been in tokyo. just when I think that an experience cannot get any better, it gets a little better. miki hasegawa has taught me japanese stitch-binding and hajime kimura has spent a day teaching indesign. the weather is great, the food is great, the beer is fantastic and the company is pretty cool also.