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.
Meg, book lover and the owner of Pesky Cat Papercraft, is a nursing student from St Louis, USA. Meg hand binds exquisite leather book covers to existing books with very little help from her cat Loki, who is more concerned with playing with Meg’s yarn and stealing leather hide. Every book is created uniquely for the client and to each person’s specifications, and can be ordered from Pesky Cat Papercraft’s Etsy page.
Recently Meg worked on a whole Harry Potter series which sold at auction for over $5000. Check out the work that went into the hand-bound books, and the fantastic attention to detail…
As well as songwriting, Mitchell is an artist in other ways. Her poetry, drawings, and paintings are soon to be released to the public in a brand new anthology. The book, Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs and Drawings, is a must-have for Joni Mitchell fans as it includes hand-written lyrics and paintings. The anthology was created originally as a Christmas gift for close friends and family in the year her album Blue topped the charts.
Dutch artist JanIsDeMan and his fellow creative Deef Feed came together to inject some colour into Jan’s hometown of Utrecht.
The project began with Jan asking residents of the building to name their favourite books so he could personally dedicate the mural to each of them. They offered an array of titles from seven different languages, and now the literary mural displays them proudly.
In this devious and proud Hogwarts House you will be in great company- hugely successful wizards such as Merlin, The Bloody Baron, and Lord Voldemort have come before you.
Some of the more dedicated Slytherins have decided to permanently mark their bodies with designs to celebrate the powerful house to which they now belong… Would you show your love for Slytherin in this way?
The former bookbinder uses old book pages, wheat starch paste, and a papier maché technique to create intricate, beautiful works of art. Her paper sculptures will always draw ire from book lovers who don’t want to see their favourite objects torn, cut, and glued, however it seems people just don’t buy old books to read anymore. With many secondhand stores/thrift shops not taking old books any more due to them being left unsold, we should be glad artists like Cecilia still have a use for abandoned tomes.
From his Tumblr page, Ben shows us some of his best work to date- Harry Potter themed Valentine’s cards! Not all of them are PG13- be warned- and they are all slightly awkward, pun-filled, and full of magic.
If you love someone who should’ve attended Hogwarts then we have the cards for you, but be warned- there is the occasional swear word and distinct lack of romance…