Like most bookbinders, I carry out repairs on on old-but-loved worn books. However most of my work revolves around making books from scratch, sometimes binding text, but mostly making stationery items from raw materials. This has led me to create a number of collections of merchandise in association with special exhibitions, for the House of Illustration, Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, The Towner Art Gallery and Two Temple Place among others.
It is the privilege of a craftsperson to choose exactly what materials and what form of making they will employ. On book covers, I have great delight in promoting the designs of pattern makers of distinction. These may be historical or contemporary designs on printed papers, or the work of artists using traditional methods such as marbling and paste papers.
Making work from scratch gives me the freedom to change the shape and size of the book at whim, sometimes allowing me to adjust the size of the book to match a particular cover design.
I have also chosen to employ methods which allow me to produce work of good quality, but at the affordable end of the hand-crafted bookbinding scale. Where I use leather, for example, I have streamlined some of the methods for working with this beautiful material to create a product that is not unaffordable.
Most of my books, and all my sketchbooks, are sewn by hand. I also use some Italian book blocks which are machine sewn, especially where a ruled page is required. Details about the paper is given with the individual book descriptions.
Albums and Scrapbooks
The albums are not just intended for photographs, but for a range of paper ephemera of all kinds. These can be stuck in any way you like. The pages are made of cartridge paper so they are suitable for writing or drawing too, and I do not use transparent interleaving, as I feel the book is much more enjoyable to look at if you can see everything at a glance.
It's a special project of mine in 2021 to promote the Commonplace Book. These are for recording quotations, inspiring passages from reading, bits of poetry and the like. In the final programme of the series The Death of Nuance on Radio 4 on New Years Day 2021, Oliver Burkeman interviewed US linguistics professor Naomi S. Baron, who explains the power of this kind of record creation, which dates back to the 16th century:
'So in a commonplace book, and they used to be done by hand, you write down something you overheard, or something you thought of, or something you read, and then you reflect back on the way that something was linguistically expressed , that really struck you. So it’s not just the ideas, but it the formulation. Outside a very small number of writers, that tradition has largely died, and more’s the pity. Because, the more we write down the things that we are think are linguistically and contentively worth remembering, the richer our lives become and the richer the linguistic expression of our lives becomes.'
I think a Commonplace Book makes a lovely gift and it is something that can be gradually added to over a number of years, making fascinating reading in the decades after it was compiled.