Chinese artist saves lost art of dragon scale bookbinding

By April 3, 2018Arty, Culture

Artist Zhang Xiaodong spends his time at his studio in Beijing recreating a lost Chinese bookbinding art.

The art can be traced back over 1,000 years to the Tang dynasty where dragon scale bookbinding was once reserved for the very wealthy and privileged of the Chinese people. Each piece was original and exquisitely hand made and passed down from generation to generation of royalty and the wealthier families.

Very few of the original books can be found today which prompted Zhang to look into the process and attempt to recreate it. Zhang found himself taking a more scientific approach to his artwork in an effort to recreate an exquisite piece just like the original artists did.




Zhang Xiaodong is the first artist to attempt this lost art for a long while according to the Art Central exhibition’s curator, Ying Kwok:

“When there is a slight movement in the air, (the pages) flow, giving life to the book itself,” Kwok told CNN in a phone interview. “This makes the whole experience of reading a book three-dimensional.”

Zhang’s recently recreated the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. The book of 230 Qing Dynasty artist Sun Wen images was painstakingly reimagined as a dragon scale bookbinding by combining ancient folding and cutting techniques, as well as ingenious use of modern technology.

Zhang visited old Chinese towns to find materials traditionally used in bookbinding, such as rice paper, bamboo, silk and wood. The trickiest but most important part of the dragon scale binding process is the precise placement of each page. A complete picture is only achieved when each sheet is placed in exactly the right place- just one hundredth of a centimetre out of place and the whole book is ruined.

Both artist and curator hope that this recreation of an ancient art, along with using modern techniques, will help preserve the Chinese traditions and heritage.

There is nothing more heartwarming than knowing bookmaking and storytelling are still integral parts of culture and tradition in parts of the world.

Try your own hand at the ancient art of origami and paper folding




Take a tour through the Dr Seuss sculpture gardens!

By | Arty, Children's Literature | No Comments
The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden was opened in 2002. The idea for the garden was first imagined when the author visited Springfield in 1986, and after his death in 1991 his widow Audrey gave her blessing for his work to be immortalised in a memorial garden full of bronze statues. Seuss’s own stepdaughter, sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, made over 30 statues in bronze for her late step-father, and the statues are set among the grounds of Springfield Museum.

Surrounded by art and science museums and galleries, Seuss’s garden is a fun, exciting, but surprisingly peaceful, place to visit Lark captured his and his character’s spirits perfectly in bronze.

Watch a tour around the gardens below!

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Literary maps to set your imagination ablaze!

By | Arty, New Releases | No Comments
Literary maps can be very useful when a story involves a journey, or several lands, and adds some detail to the book.

When a book contains a map it is almost a guarantee that the story will be a great adventure! Harry Potter, Treasure Island, The Hobbit, and so many others include a map of the fictional lands involved in the plot to help the reader feel closer to the action.

In Huw Lewis-Jones’s An Atlas of Imaginary Lands includes the very map that kicked off Treasure Island, a detailed map of Moomin Valley, and The Marauders Map from the Harry Potter series, among many others

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Bookish art that will speak to your soul

By | Arty, Inspired by Literature | No Comments
Bookish art can be anything: paintings of people reading, depictions of the adventures we are taken on when we open a book, dreamlike mindscapes, or abstract figures stepping into pages…

We put together a batch of some of the best bookish art we have come across on our internet travels- most of the artists have remained elusive despite our efforts to Google reverse image search… If any of you know who any of the artists are- just let us know and we will credit!

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13 Ridiculous Ways to Store Your Books

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Storing books used to be so easy: all one would have to do is place a book on a shelf and hey presto! Your books are displayed.

Some people have decided that bookshelves are so last century and have been attempting some daring and kooky shelving options. Books can now be dangled, strung up, float on invisible shelves, be shoved in some foam padding, or displayed like an arty picture. Anything constitutes a shelf now: pipes, crates, a knife block- the ultimate recycling.

Check out some of the ridiculous idea below and see if you fancy adopting one of these shelving ideas!

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Romance novels get a new, inclusive makeover

By | Arty, Literature | No Comments
Romantic fiction can be completely hit and miss. It treads the fine line between cheesy and romantic, crass and classy so carefully…

A while ago we shared the hilariously normal take on romantic book covers by Val Derbyshire much to everyone’s amusement. Romantic fiction is very popular to this day- even classic bodice-rippers from the likes of Mills & Boon can still be seen being slipped into someone’s bag after a trip to the library.

One woman fell in love with the intense and romantic imagery many romance fiction publishers use but noticed its distinct lack of inclusion for the LGBT community and non-white folk. Most models on the covers were white and heterosexual- which is not exactly representative of the world of romance.

Elizabeth Renstrom and photographer Jason Altaan came together to reimagine the classic covers with a more diverse crowd… Check them out below!

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Musicians and artists collaborate on an epic book of stories

By | Arty, Literature | One Comment

Musicians are no strangers to the literary world and a recent project has certainly shone light on this!

About a decade ago a man called Jeff Antebi, the founder of Waxploitation, had a dream of creating a book with his favourite musicians and artists. The idea was to have rock stars, illustrators, and actors collaborate on unique stories and artwork. Now 29 of those pairings make up the kooky, absorbing, and amazing project: Stories for Ways & Means.

Musicians and artists include Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Frank Black, Laura Marling, Alison Mosshart, Dan Baldwin, Swoon, Will Barras, Ronzo, Kai & Sunny, and many more.

Featured voices appear in short promo films from the likes of the great Danny Devito, Zach Galifianakis, Nick Offerman, King Krule, and Lauren Lapkus.

The stories are available in book form straight from the website- from $40 (£30) for the hardback to an exclusive signed edition for $490 (£374). Proceeds go to various charities including Room to Read and Pencils of Promise.

Check out the video below for an exciting look at this rockstar collaboration!

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