I am now the proud owner of a signed copy of Tini Miura’s book My World of Bibliophile Binding (yes, the copy I linked to at Oak Knoll in my first Robert Wu post—I couldn’t resist), and have been lucky enough to examine a couple of her bindings in person. I also recently read Pamela Train Leutz’s interview with Tini in The Thread That Binds, which took place in September 2005, shortly after Robert’s time training with Tini at her home studio.
Now I understand what Robert wrote to me about the influence Tini has had on his life and work. In fact, for Robert, I believe that life and work are exactly the same thing.
I discovered that Tini Miura was teaching at American Academy of Bookbinding. Upon application, I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the “Tini Miura Scholarship.” I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a one time only endowment, the recipient selected personally by Master Designer Binder Tini Miura. This enabled me to study at AAB in the summer of 2004.
I didn’t get to meet Tini herself that summer, as she has retired from teaching at the school. So I first started with another great designer binder, Monique Lallier [stay tuned for more on Monique Lallier]. At the school, the director showed me a design binding made by Tini herself. When I first held a design binding made by Tini, it was a magical moment. It spoke to me deeply. I told myself that I had to meet this person who, by then, had become a mysterious and goddess-like celebrity in my mind.
Later the next year, I went to Tini’s home in California and made a daring proposal to her. I would like to spend more than one month of private training with her to learn everything she wrote in her book. She agreed. I am very fortunate to have had my family’s support to do this. All this time, I was in my final thesis year of completing my master’s degree in Architecture! To be honest, I don’t know how I did it, but I remember I didn’t want to finish architecture school as I had already had 8 years of studying architecture (both bachelor and masters degree). Tini told me that I had to finish school and get the degree. So I completed my master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Toronto.
Now, looking back, I am glad that I finished my degree. Architecture taught me the skills to do design well. With strong technical training from Tini, I have all the skills I need to produce the best design bindings I can do. Hopefully, they will be like the bindings I saw in Alastair Duncan’s book!
It was through Tini Miura that I learned what it takes to be a complete bookbinder/artist. Tini is also known for incorporating her paper marbling with her bindings. By the time I began studying with Tini, I was already doing paper marbling, but when I saw Tini’s marbling work as graphic art, it really fueled my interests in developing my own marbling as art. Not a lot of bookbinders can design, marble, and bind like Tini. So she has always been my role model.