I recently completed a book as part of the monthly bookbinding challenge on Instagram called Are You Book Enough? Each month, a theme is chosen and participants create a book incorporating that theme. Bookbinders are encouraged to share their process and final books on Instagram using the tag #areyoubookenough. February’s theme was peace.
It didn’t take long for me to find inspiration. Shocker – it was my trip to Japan.
While staying in Yudanaka, my husband and I wanted to buy cherries before leaving our ryokan. The owner generously offered us a ride. After visiting a farmers market, he surprised us by dropping us off at the Heiwa Kannon Statue of World Peace in DaihiDen Temple.
It is said that the statue has the power to grant one a peaceful life. Inside the inner base of the statue are 33 small golden statues – if you pray at all of the statues, it is as if you have visited and prayed at 33 Japanese temples.
Outside of the temple is a large bell that you ring for world peace and the sound can be heard throughout the town. I rang the bell. It was loud.
Something else I found at the temple were strings of knotted fortunes written on strips of paper called O-mikuji. You can get these fortunes at shrines and temples throughout Japan.
If you get a good fortune, the tradition is to take it home with you and carry it in your wallet – this is to keep the good luck close to you. If your fortune is bad, the custom is to fold it up and tie it to a pine tree, or to designated wires or strings. The belief is that by doing so, you can tie your fortune to that location and delay your bad luck.
Now that you’ve seen what inspired me, I’ll show you my process. Thankfully, making the book was not nearly as complicated as my last book.
For the cover, I monkeyed with a photo of the bell in Photoshop to simplify it. I printed out the edited image on paper and then glued it to a piece of bookboard.
The reason why I put the image down first was due to an interesting discovery I made – the bookcloth I purchased at Masumi (Tokyo) was sheerer than I had anticipated. When I glued the bookcloth over a printed image, the image would show through. I loved the effect – very subtle.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this was a flag book. The plan was to use O-mikuji for my flags.
When I was in Kyoto at Kinkaku-ji Temple, I had the opportunity to get my own O-mikuji from a vending machine. I half-expected it to come out in one of those clear plastic ball thingies. It didn’t. Thankfully, I received an “excellent” fortune.
Here’s what it looked like:
I searched online for images of bad fortunes so the text in my O-mikuji would be as authentic as possible. I also thought about what personal fortunes I’d like to leave behind to gain inner peace and added in those messages. After gathering twelve different fortunes, I got to work.
I taped a thin sheet of Unryu to an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper so I could feed it through my laser printer. It worked like a charm.
After trimming the fortunes, I folded them up and tied them into knots, as if I were tying them to a tree or string at a shrine.
After that, I glued them into the book and I was done!
Here’s the finished book – Peace Kannon:
As this copy of Peace Kannon has deep personal significance for me, it’s not available for purchase. However, I’d love to create a copy of this book just for you!
You can give me up to 12 bad fortunes that you’d like to give away and I’ll create custom O-mikuji for your book’s flags, making your piece one-of-a-kind. Or for a more personalized experience, you can come to my studio in Montpelier to participate in the creation of your book. You’ll fold your own custom O-mikuji and then attach them to the spine of the book – this is intended to replicate the Japanese tradition of attaching O-mikuji to a tree or string.*
For more information and/or pricing, please feel free to contact me.
* Many thanks to Whitney Aldrich at Axel’s Gallery & Frame Shop for suggesting this idea.