The magical and meticulous craftsmanship of miniature books

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In the past, miniature books were produced for personal convenience as they could easily be carried in a pocket or a female purse.

Gradually seen as sophisticated works of craftsmanship, mini-books are not only a source of knowledge, but are also collectibles and valuables, some of which are worth thousands of dollars.

According to Nguyen Thuy Duong, the founder and CEO of Phuc Minh Books, creating miniature books requires a high level of virtuosity and extreme precision that only perfectionists and enthusiasts possess.

“Miniature books are often the crystallization of the love of literature and the art of printing because craftsmen have to put in a lot of time and labor to create a masterpiece.

“Despite its small size, a micro-volume book fully demonstrates binding, content layout, printing and processing techniques, and almost no mistakes are allowed,” Duong said.

Over the past two years, Phuc Minh Books has published two series of these little books: The Body and Soul by Maxence van der Meersch, consisting of three 5.5 cm by 7.6 cm books, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, consisting of five books 6 cm by 7.8 cm.

These books are produced with techniques applied for the first time in Vietnam.

The book is covered with silk, woven with a technique such that the silk fibers are so tight that not even light can penetrate.

In a vast former weaving workshop, Le The Kim Thu, an artisan from Van Phuc Silk Village, said, “To weave with a traditional loom, we select the most durable yarns and use techniques to ensure that the warp and weft are smooth and tight.

“As a result, when you press the floss onto the blanket, the floss won’t shrink or wrinkle, which ensures durability and grip,” Thu said.

Creating a mini-book requires special skills at every stage of the production process, from creating the book cover, layout and illustration to printing and binding.

“Although the book is small, I had to choose the right font size to keep the letters legible.

“Then when laying out, I have to be careful with the ratio so that the reader’s hand doesn’t cover the words when reading.

“With most drawings, I will place them on the right side so that they can easily grab the reader’s attention,” said book designer Nguyen Thi Hong.

The illustrations in these books are also beautiful. Tran Minh Tam, an artist who illustrated the books, said, “With miniature books, the illustrations shrink to one-eighth the size of a normal book. If the stroke is too small it will be light and if it is too thick it will be rough. I have to print many tests to see how effective the illustration is.

To complete a set of books, the manufacturer must minimize everything.

This requires designers to be meticulous and skilled in choosing the right needle and sewing thread.

Until now, Phuc Minh is still the first publishing house to produce miniature books, with a minimum number of copies, and they produce only one set per year.

“Even though the book is a bit expensive, I can still afford it because they are exceptional and rare,” said book collector Tu Xuan Minh. – Vietnam News / ANN

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