Friday, January 4, 2008


Over on the Book Arts Web listserv, a couple of people have mentioned a book called Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers . It sounds really interesting, and I think I'll use some of my Christmas money to buy a copy.

According to the jacket cover, "wabi-sabi is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic. It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. it is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional..."

Although I realize how difficult it is for westerners like myself to really comprehend concepts like zen, and wabi-sabi, and Buddhist thought in general, I find myself drawn to read Buddhist writings (particularly the Dalai Lama's books), and I think that has had an influence on how I work. For instance, I started out using straight-edged handmade paper covers for my books, but over time I've started using more and more hand-torn paper for covers. I love the impreciseness of it (you never know what paper will do when you tear it) . The result isn't "perfect," if you measure perfection in terms of control and straight lines, but the paper tears as its nature intends it to tear, so there is a beautiful imperfection in the hand-torn edges that the straight edged paper (however nice) doesn't have. Through taking a "less control" approach, I've found a peacefulness in the process of making books that hopefully becomes part of the character of each book.

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