Friday, 26 November 2010

Blog Interview: WeeBindery

Hello and welcome to the Wee Bindery in North Carolina. I am going to meet with Marie today, who agreed to give us a tour through her workshop.

Hi, and thanks for inviting us in! Why don't we start off with you introducing yourself to our readers?
Welcome! I am Marie aka Wee from Wee Bindery. - I design and create blank books, journals, sketchbooks and photo albums. I also love to sew, paint with watercolors and make lino prints.
Location - Currently of North Carolina but originally from Massachusetts - USA.

You named your Etsy-Shop the "Wee Bindery": Is your workshop particularly small, and are you Scottish?
Yes and No. Yes, my Workshop is small, it's only me here but I am very busy and work every day!
I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a name for my shop. I decided on Wee Bindery since Wee has been my nickname for a long time, and it represents most of my work - small books. And No, I am not Scottish.

How and when did crafting and bookmaking come to your life?
Both my mother and grandmother were seamstresses and were very creative. I learned to sew, crochet, paint, quilt and "create" before the age of 10. I have attended numerous bookbinding, painting and other craft workshops and have spent much time reading and experimentation over the years.
The reason I love bookbinding so much and that my main concentration is books is because it incorporates everything I love to do! It incorporates sewing and painting to name a few. When I attended my first bookbinding course years ago, I knew that was want I wanted to do on a full-time basis! I absolutely loved it and still do! Not only do I love to make books but I am an avid reader and love to write in my journals.

Do you have a day-job different from being an Etsy-Seller?
I am a full-time Bookbinder and Artist, now. I have waited a long time to do what I truly wanted to do in life and that has always been my art. When I was young, I wanted to be an art teacher but followed the "business" route working 30+ years as a successful Paralegal and Realtor. During this period I always created on a part-time basis. I left the business world several years ago as a result of my husband's job relocation and his supporting me and my dream to be a full-time artist. I have never looked back!

Let us talk a little about your shop and your craft. - How do you work and how would you describe your books?
I design and create all of my own books. My favorite materials are vintage fabric, leather, beautiful Japanese and Italian paper and buttons. My antique book press is one of my prized possessions. I am a collector of new and vintage fabric, paper, buttons, yarn and unique embellishments.
Since my first love is sewing, I love most the books in which the stitching is exposed.

Is there a special way or place for you where you go to get fresh ideas?
Art museums! I love to visit museums and look at the works of Monet, Raphael and the Old Masters. Also churches, music, history, architecture, Italy and the seaports of New England.

Books are only a part of my artistic expression. I also love to paint so I really appreciate the styles, colors and skill of many painters. When you asked the question what inspires you - it really is everything in life. I look almost everything and say to myself, how can I paint that landscape or how can I make that quilt (as an example).

Thank you for taking your time to talk with me, Marie.

If you now want to see more of her books, head over to her shop and browse the shelves.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Recycled Books

Hello, hello! I'm Rhubarb aka Sara from Rhubarb & Ella, and unbeknown to you I have been lurking as a reader of the BEST blog for a year. I have only just sprung into action with my own shop, and I hope to pop up now and again on the BEST blog as an occasional Thursday contributor.

I'm not a professionally trained bookbinder. I started like many BEST members, going to a class and being hooked by the wonder of making my own first hard-cover book, then buying and attempting to decipher Keith Smith's wonderful instruction books. In the process I discovered a new phobia to add to my collection! I'm not sure what it's called but it is defined as a fear of defacing a printed text and I'm sure I'm not alone...

How many years did I spend being told not to write or draw in books? Answer: lots! And it still feels really naughty to take an old book and turn it into something new.

I've taken to scouring second-hand book stores and sales for nice bindings with damaged text blocks with the justification that I'll be "rescuing" the covers... and as I live in a humid environment on the sub-tropical north coast of New South Wales in Australia there are lots of books around that have water damage or foxing on their pages, but the covers are reasonably intact.

A recent purchase was "The Modern Book for Boys", a lovely annual from (I think) the 1930's, full of gung-ho stories of aspirational upper-middle-class private schoolboys having jolly japes, solving crimes and thwarting bullies. The covers are slightly worn but I was able to make a new spine and mend the corners, turning the covers into a clam-shell box and using salvaged drawings as part of a coptic-bound sketchbook to go inside.

I have a pile of other second-hand books waiting for similar treatment!

When I've got my courage up I hope to do far more radical things... I am anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus this year with (a little bird tells me) a Dremel in his sack for me! Suddenly drilling, sanding and carving might be added to my growing range of techniques. In my fine arts practice I make artists' books which tend to be quite sculptural, so I am excited to see the work of people like Graham Hay and Brian Dettmer who are inspiring me to do more with those discarded text blocks. Who inspires your work?