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892reply and how

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  • Richard Steiner
    May 15, 2005
      Dear Pat; thanks for the nice note. I teach woodblock printmaking
      both in college and privately. I also teach linocut at the college,
      but it is a new course and I am teaching myself as much as I am
      teaching the kids.

      I have had a Wednesday evening class for about 25 years.
      Students pay by the month; there is not schedule as such, one
      moves at one's own pace. For nearly 18 years, I have also been
      teaching at the Kyoto Deaf Center (and had a deaf/blind student
      once for about a year and a half, til she married and moved
      away). I teach short courses of about 10 sessions each in
      woodblock printmaking and miniature books. But here in Japan,
      or at least in my workshops, we do all the art and craft. We
      design, carve, print, bind and sell/give away/exchange. No
      machine work at all. The binding is Japanese string, tho I want to
      teach western binding also; but it is labor intensive, and requires
      a lot of time and tools. The Japanese way is simple and quick. I
      place more importance on the book's content and very little on
      the book's look. Rusty plates for the covers is high craft, that is
      true, but after you get past the covers, what is inside? Well,
      excuse me if I come down hard and perhaps unreasonable on
      this. But content has always been, for me and for my students,
      more important than appearance. Books are, in the end, to be
      read. The recent question, "What is a book?" has to be
      answered more in terms of what ideas it conveys, or what
      entertainment it gives, and less in what it looks like. In the latter
      case, it is mere decoration. Pretty, collectable, unique, but not a
      book. Am I being too severe? Rather, probably I am being terribly
      old fashioned.
      Anyway, my post today.
      By the way, Pat, when you were in Kyoto, who was your
      bookbinding teacher? Is he or she still here? Where did you stay
      while in the city? Alas, should you return to the ancient capital,
      you would cry and cry. I have been living here for 33 years, and in
      that short time, I have seen the city self destruct architecturally.
      They should change the name; it is not the same place at all.