Reading should be a tactile pastime

Reading should be a tactile pastime
SHORTLISTED FOR READ! SINGAPORE: Gita Wolf's story, The Very Hungry Lion (above), is found in Asian Folktales, a compilation book that can be borrowed from all but two public libraries.PHOTO: NATIONAL LIBRARY BOARD

Known as one of the most original names in contemporary Indian publishing, Indian author Gita Wolf is a clear advocate of the traditional arts in each of her handcrafted books.

The 57-year-old co-founder of Tara Books in Chennai has written more than 20 books for adults and children, including her latest title Do!, winner of the prestigious Bologna Ragazzi New Horizons Award in 2010.

My Paper spoke to the visionary writer, who was here to hold an art workshop as part of Read! Singapore on Friday and Saturday, about handmaking books and why it remains important, especially in today's digital world.

What goes into the process of handmaking a book?

We have 20 people in our handmade printing workshop, who each play a role in creating these cherished items.

Each page (of a book) is an original as we print them by hand on a silk-screen, before binding them by hand - a process that involves punching holes with a mallet and a nail, before stitching the forms together.

Even the paper used is handmade from a mixture of cotton-cloth waste and tree bark, rice husk, or grass.

What is the value of making each book by hand?

In today's world, there is so much that is now virtual - things that you cannot touch or feel or smell.

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