The ties that bind ... a book

The ties that bind ... a book

Tiana Wong has fallen in love with an age-old craft and shows our junior reporters how to create their own tomes from scratch


Tiana Wong (second from left) with junior reporters Sakina Ma, Nola Yip and Kent De Jesus.
Tiana Wong (second from left) with junior reporters Sakina Ma, Nola Yip and Kent De Jesus.
Photos: Chris Lau/SCMP
What's harder than writing a book? Well, it could be binding one. Our junior reporters visited artisan Tiana Wong's studio in Shek Kip Mei. They spoke to Wong about her passion and interesting journey in bookbinding. They also learned to make a book from scratch by hand.

Meet Tiana Wong

Tiana Wong once had a white-collar job. But she saw some friends turning their backs on boring careers so they could pursue something like the arts. Wong decided to follow suit.

While she was doing her bachelor's degree in fine art, she had to hand in some drawings in a sketchbook.

She thought it would be fun to do the whole project in a DIY way so she set about making her own sketchbook as well. That's when she fell in love with bookbinding.

She started out by making normal-sized notebooks. But they took too much time to make and she earned very little. So she started making miniature books that could be worn as pendants on necklaces.

She rented a studio at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre in Shek Kip Mei, where she now holds workshops for people who want to learn the craft of making books.

Wong once travelled to Japan to learn the traditional form of bookbinding from a Japanese master. She also visited Taiwan and Europe to learn new techniques from local artisans.

Nola Yip & Sakina Ma

The art of bookbinding

Tiana Wong shows junior reporters Sakina Ma and Kent De Jesus some techniques of her craft during a workshop.

Bookbinding is a form of art that has a long and rich history.

Wong said that bookbinders can identify the direction of veins on pieces of paper. They then arrange them accordingly. This determines whether a book's pages will flip smoothly or not, Wong said.

Binders also need good cutting skills. If you cut well, not only will you not cut your fingers, but you can also save resources.

Bookbinding is a process when everything needs to be done in a precise way.

You need to pay close attention to the lengths and widths of pages. You also have to bind pages together accurately. If you do everything correctly, your book will look as if it had been produced by a machine.

Bookbinders use several special tools. For example, the bone folder is a very useful tool. It is used to make sure pieces of paper are folded precisely.

Binders use a prick punch to make small holes in a book so that it can be stitched together.

It all takes a keen eye and nimble fingers - and plenty of patience.

Kent De Jesus & Kate Ng

Wong's notebooks are available at Kubricks. If you would like to find out more about bookbinding, visit

Young Post junior reporters' club organises regular activities and workshops for our members. If you would like to be part of it, send your name, age, school and contact to now!



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