Deepening Snow: Part 4

Deepening Snow Signatures

The complete book ready for sewing with the double-ended thread.

The concept for the binding of Deepening Snow started with research on traditional Japanese bindings, where I discovered the retchoso style. Retchoso is a less familiar Japanese style than the more well know stab-bindings. It is similar in some ways to a traditional coptic binding. Both have an exposed spine and rely on the sewing itself to provide structure and stability to the binding.

After choosing the stucture of the binding, I prepared multiple dummy and trial versions. This is the most important step in an edition binding. There is nothing more frustrating than executing 100 poorly designed bindings. Or fixing the same mistake 100 times. Once all of the wrinkles were ironed out of the process, the materials could be prepared and cut to the correct dimensions. Sometimes this was as simple as cutting the square cover stiffeners. And sometimes as involved as the decoration, cutting, trimming, scoring, and folding of the cover papers.

Deepening Snow Close-up of Spine

Close-up of retchoso spine with book slightly open. The signatures are slit instead of pierced, so the thread sinks out of sight. The colors of the signatures are from the tipped-on section titles.

After the printing was finished, I cut the sheets apart, folded and collated them into their correct signatures, glued the outermost signatures to the assembled covers, and sewed it all together. Retchoso usually uses two pieces of thread and a single needle, but I devised a variation for this project that uses one piece of thread with a needle at each end. Like many sewing patterns for books, retchoso can seem complicated at first, but it is essentially a lacing together of the signatures starting with the middle signature and working toward each cover and then back again to the middle. When the threads come back to the middle signature and are gentle drawn tight, the outside signatures are pulled together.

Deepening Snow Signature Stacks

The five signatures in stacks. The colored sheets for the section titles have been tipped on. The first and last stacks still need to have the covers attached.

Deepening Snow Folder Cover

It’s hard to capture the colors created by staining the tyvek, but this photo of the front of the folder shows the pattern created. The title is printed in Japanese on the spine.

The finishing touch for the binding is a hard-case folder lined in black paper and covered in acrylic-stained tyvek. Tyvek has a number of uses from home construction to conservation of rare documents. Because it is spun not woven, an ice-like pattern develops as the fibers in the material accept or reject the stain. Thanks to Audrey Holden for asembling the folders.