Suminagashi is the ancient Japanese process of floating ink on water. Patterns are created by gently manipulating the ink, using the breath, or a single hair to create swirling marks. Paper is then placed on the surface of the water thereby transferring the design. Suminagashi was first recorded in the twelfth century. The process appears simple, producing some fabulous marks but like any art form, there are always those skilled artists who can raise it to another level. These are my first attempts!
The process of Suminagashi produces a calm and serene feeling - it is not a process that likes be hurried. It feels very in tune with the spirit of Buddhism - slowing things down and encouraging you to "be in the moment". It is a wonderful process of mark making and one which I will certainly be exploring further.
I always enjoy the chance to explore new book structures, and spending time 'simply making.' Freed from the challenges of content and ideas, making allows for new skills and ideas to emerge. I have recently been looking at Oriental book structures in particular Japanese stab binding methods. While there are numerous elaborate contemporary designs, I am drawn to the four traditional patterns - the four hole, the Noble, the Hemp Leaf, and Tortoiseshell. There is a beautiful timeless simplicity to these designs. While sewing these books it immediately becomes apparent how the choice of paper is an integral part of the process. If the books are to open successfully fine papers work best. This suits my way of working as I enjoy working on various thin handmade papers.
Marbled cover, Four hole binding, linen thread, shoji paper, suminagashi prints.
Marbled Cover (Stone pattern), four hole stitch, linen thread, wash paper, ink.
Thin volumes of books would traditionally be contained within a bespoke box. in contrast to the western style of binding (where the pages are bound between hard covers) here the box becomes the protective cover for the thin volumes. It wraps beautifully around the books and there is a joy to be had in the process of 'unveiling" its contents. This is a process and structure which I can see myself using for future projects.
A mixture of the four traditional bindings, with box.