Hong Kong ex-financier makes books out of mink, jeans, jewelry

Hong Kong ex-financier makes books out of mink, jeans, jewelry

Top 10 hand-bound books from Percy So's fine binding workshop
Fine binding Hong Kong
Percy So finds it hard not to judge a book by its cover.

When we see a beautiful book, our instinct is to pick it up and admire it. So wants to take it apart.

“I just want to touch it and figure it out and make it,” says So who trained under renowned bookbinder Monique Lallier at the American Academy of Bookbinding.

Percy So does fine binding in Hong Kong. That's making books by hand, from scratch, using offbeat materials.

The 27-year-old left her job at a boutique corporate finance firm about a year ago to start her bookbinding and paper cutting business.

“I thought, if art jamming could sustain itself -- people come in and they give you supplies and you don’t really learn anything -- then maybe bookbinding, as a craft that people learn, would work,” So says.

The artisan teaches workshops out of her walk-up apartment near Times Square. Books can take from weeks to months to complete, and run up a bill of hundreds to thousands of Hong Kong dollars.

So also receives orders for books and paper cuttings for everything from gifts to weddings.

The following are 10 of the coolest books from her workshop.

More information about Percy So’s bookbinding and paper cutting services and workshops may be found at her web site, www.percyso.com.

The Jean Book

Percy So fine bindingAnother take on distressed denim.

Your jeans can do more than cover your butt.

So explains that denim is made from cotton and cotton can be made into paper.

For this book, she cut up a pair of denims and boiled them in a large pot in a studio for two hours with soda ash to break down the fibers.

A Hollander beater is then used to reduce the boiled denim to pulp, which is then made into paper. 

The pages are assembled using Coptic binding.

So does not recommend making paper from jeans at home as nasty fumes are produced in the process.

The Miniature Books

Percy So fine bindingMagnifying glass not included.

The Miniature Book Society in the United States considers any book that is no more than seven centimeters thick, wide or long to be a miniature book.

So's baby books are not much larger than a pin and stand less than two centimeters high.

“It takes a lot of precision,” says So, although she notes the technique involved is no different from that for making larger books.

The Vade Mecum Book

Percy So fine bindingStorage for secrets.

Vade mecum, or “go with me” in Latin, refers to a handbook or pocket reference.

In So’s Vade Mecum, large sheets of paper are folded into a small, portable size and bound together.

Because of the way the pages fold, they conceal their inner surface, making this a great format for concealing secrets, So says.

The Accordion Books

Percy So fine bindingAvatar book art.Accordion books fold out and can be freestanding.

“The accordion is fun. It’s really simple yet functional,” So says.

Depending on how it folds, it can form different shapes.

The Mink and Snakeskin Polaroid Book

Percy So fine bindingOffline photo-sharing regains its glory.Covered in mink fur on one end and snakeskin on the other, this accordion photo album is an extravagant way to display Polaroids.

So uses the mink tail to tie the entire bundle together. Because it is freestanding, it can be left open to show off the photos inside.

The Beaded Link Stitch Book

Percy So fine bindingRecycle costume jewelry into books.Link-stitching is elegant and can be decorative, So says.

Here, she incorporates gray and silver beading into the link stitching of the book to amp up its wow factor.

“If you know link stitching, it will not be difficult to get into fine binding,” So says.

The Re-bound Book

Percy So fine bindingGiving personal favorites the treatment they deserve.Here, So has reworked a copy of the illustrated “The Old Bird: A Love Story” by 1963 National Book Award winner J.F. Powers, which she had purchased from the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, into a fine-bound book.

She used pink goat skin for the cover and traditional marbled paper for the end pages, and created a foldable blue box to house it.

The Dainty Book

Percy So fine bindingA sweet nothing of a book.

With a cover measuring eight by six centimeters, this book just misses the mark for being miniature, but it still makes a darling little memento.

So bound it with a link stitch, used goat-skin for its cover and Thai marbled paper for its end pages, and embellished it with pearls.