Miniature books have been around for ages and are currently enjoyed and collected as handheld pieces of art. Earlier this month a miniature book exhibit was held at GALLERY・SER in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, and, being a mini-book fan myself, I went to see what was on display.
The exhibit took place June 7‒15 and showcased a variety of tiny handcrafted books, scrolls, notebooks and other charming pieces. Among them there was even a book that had a binding made from a metal sheet with a design embossed on it.
The event was organized by Shiori Tanaka, representative of the Japanese Miniature Book Society. According to Ms. Tanaka a total of 44 different authors were represented and the exhibition was popular from opening day, with some people taking nearly two hours to enjoy the pieces on display.
One particular piece that caught my eye was a small, circular packet that had the words “pull here” and “and here” written on opposite sides. Pulling them apart, the packet opened up to reveal a tiny book in the shape of a cat curled up.
Another book held a fold-out sheet of the hand alphabet —a handy reference indeed!
This method of folding a square piece of paper so that it can be opened in one motion by pulling on opposite ends is known as the Miura fold. Paper folded using this method is highly durable as individual creases do not overlap and there is no unnecessary strain when folded.
The fold was invented in 1970 by Koryo Miura, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Tokyo, who came up with the idea while researching methods of developing satellite panels. In 1995 the idea was put into practice to simulate solar panel arrays for satellites in the research vessel Space Flight Unit.
In addition to the folding books there were many other creative miniature books on display, and I really did lose track of time while looking at them!
All of the pieces were available for purchase, and there was a workshop for those who wished to make their own miniature book. In one corner I even found a 100 yen ($1.20) miniature book capsule vending machine!
More information about this and future events can be found at the GALLERY・SER website, available in Japanese only.
Original Author: Michimaru Takeuchi