Being curious about making books is a great start – and it’s not even Chapter One!

First, let me share with you how I got into bookbinding, what I get out of it, and why I stayed on board. I’m Hope Fitzgerald and I’ve been an artist and maker
in Faversham on the North Kent coast in the UK for a long time. Alongside an again/off again Fine Art practice, studying for an MA Fine Art, Post Graduate Certificate of Education, and raising three young women, I have also worked in education, photography, filmmaking, and workshop facilitation. One hot sweaty day, while working on a film in London, I had a moment of revelation. I was dragging a hefty kit bag up some stairs in a crowded Tube station and realised – that is enough of THAT, thanks very much. I loved my work, but not all of it – time to move on. One art project led to another and I found myself making small books, which turned into bigger books. I made the commitment to learn more, and here are just five reasons I made bookbinding and bookbinding workshops my thing.
 

Could bookbinding be your thing? Read on to find out!

 

Chapter One:

You can begin immediately – but wait, please don’t leave yet! 🙂 Bookbinding is affordable, accessible, and requires only the most basic materials to get started. If you like stationery, craft and making, you probably have many things you’d need to hand already. If not, you can find paper and card at home that would fit the bill to make a start – make recycling your personal mission! Dig out the dental floss, find that old glue stick. In my Begin Bookbinding workshops, our first book is a folded structure made from a single page of A4 paper. It never fails to delight. There are countless tutorials on Youtube to get you started.

Chapter Two:

Making a book that you can hold in your hand is a pleasure.  You start with a pile of paper (maybe it’s your favourite drawing or watercolour surface), you decide how many pages you will have, you choose the binding style and materials, and step by step, piece by piece, process by process, you form these raw materials, whether new, repurposed, or recycled, into something beautiful, useful and unique. Don’t worry if you get on a roll and have too many books – it just means you’ve got a brilliant stash of handmade gifts ready to go!

Chapter Three:

The learning is limitless. This is the one that appealed to me personally the most. As a creative person, I’ve grown to like the commitment to exploring new ideas, learning new skills and improving them. Sure, sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes things go wrong and I have to find a creative solution. Sometimes it’s just time to learn from a mistake and start again. But it’s all worth it, and each new challenge is an opportunity for another creative personal triumph. So whether it’s a new stitch, or the way a new paper behaves, or a quirky cover material, or a new technique or embellishment – there’s always more the learn in the rich heritage craft of binding books.

Chapter Four:

You can fit bookbinding in around your life – the processes are additive and cumulative, but not necessarily time consuming. Everything you need can be easily accommodated on your kitchen table or a small desk. Depending on the time you have to spend, you could easily immerse yourself for a full day or dip in and out, completing discrete steps as you have the time. I regularly sew my books while watching telly in the evening. I might spend an hour a couple of days later gluing up spines. Set me up with a Podcast and a half day and I’m measuring book covers and choosing cover materials. Once there’s adhesive involved, there is always a built in wait for drying time. It’s a one size fits all kind of hobby!

Chapter Five:

Bookbinding is addictive! Given all of the above, it seems pretty obvious that this is where we’d end up. Consider it a public service announcement. I have yet to finish a workshop with anyone feeling ((Meh)) about their finished books, and seeing the same faces in subsequent workshops confirms my theory. I love it when people come to workshops and show me books they’ve made or when they share new skills and creations on Instagram. I can’t get enough of it – I dream in book structures, I revel in how much more I can learn, and feel joyful about the privilege of being able to share what I know about bookbinding in my workshops and classes. Still, you have been warned – making books easily becomes a stationery obsession. 😉

 

Hope currently runs Bindfulness Bookbinding Workshops in Faversham at the Alexander Centre, or privately in her home or yours. Please get in touch for bespoke learning. Longer courses are available through Kent Adult Education in Canterbury.