bespoke handcrafted book bindings

This article was sent to me today. I imagine doing a wonderful cover for my own copy of the Alchemist, or Zarathustra…

“ANY BOOKLOVER KNOWS the pleasure of handling a cherished volume, whether it’s a first edition from a favorite novelist or the Shakespeare sonnets your spouse used to woo you. But some bibliophiles are going a step further, commissioning craftsmen to create bespoke bindings for their beloved books.

Picture your favorite tome dressed in the sort of flamboyant haute-couture gown today’s off-the-peg paperbacks can only dream of. These “creative bindings,” as they are known, are unique, crafted from the finest materials and the result of hundreds of hours of meticulous labor.

Photos: Lavishly Tooled


The Bindery


“Anybody who unexpectedly comes across creative bookbinding is simply awed by its beauty,” says Paul C. Delrue, a binder based in Denbighshire, Wales, who has been transforming books with complex, intricate designs in leather for more than 40 years.

Denis Collins, a longtime collector who has commissioned nearly 30 fine bindings over the years, agrees: “At its best, bookbinding combines craft skills of a high order with the ability to do something that is artistically beautiful.”

Binding is not a speedy business. Depending on the volume, between 30 and 100 separate steps are involved. In bigger workshops, like the Bindery in London, where 14 craftsmen work, the tasks are split between a designer; a seamstress; a forwarder, who prepares and covers the book with cloth or leather; and a finisher, who decorates and titles it with gold or other metals. This means that, at a push, the team can design and bind a cloth book in two weeks and a leather one in six, but most binders working alone will only make a handful of books a year.

In the latter camp is Tracey Rowledge, a 42-year-old artist based in London…” cFull article here:



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Embossed metal book covers

This post from new leaf network belongs in this blog for sure:

The last thing i did before we rushed off to Gisborne for Christmas with daughter and her doglet Honey, was to put this book (my volume I of Apples of Aeden, The Girl and the Guardian) together, using an experimental embossing I did years ago. It was a friend’s mother’s silver foil, not sure if it’s pewter or what, but it embossed easily using my standard method – roller pressing rubber sheet which presses the cover sheet into an embossing pattern carved 1-2mm deep. I cut the embossed silver into a front, back, and spine section and hot-glued them onto the black cloth of the hardback cover. the Set glue fills the embossed hollows so they don’t get squashed.

I plan to make more, using copper foil probably.  Note the burnt edge – could be marbled, or gilt, or silver? Price for this limited edition book? Probably $195 – $295 retail. Any ideas for an heirloom book you would like in THIS medium? I can design and make it for you as the book wizard…

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Screenprinted fabric covered books

My daughter Xanthe is at art school and loves screenprinting, so we got together and did these. Lots of potential for some wonderful book covers – and strong too!

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Sharing with New Leaf Network on Facebook

I’ve set up ‘sharing’ this blog’s posts on New Leaf Network on FB, as many of those who like New Leaf Network and its ethos of the ‘new Kelmscott’ will like what is posted here. 🙂

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Carved books in the age of the ebook

Well for years I’ve been sitting on these books of mine which sell (when in stock) at our work-in-progress Cafe Eutopia

and nowhere else.

The embossed-cover  ‘Blank Books’ I make with ‘Love Beauty Truth Freedom’ on the cover (also now one with a sailing ship, thanks to a wwoofer who learned how to do them and left some before returning home to San Diego) have gone into people’s pockets and all around the world, I guess.

But the really new addition (as far as I am aware) is my invention of the ‘burnt edge’ or ‘burnt books’, as I nicknamed them.  See header image) These I have made only in small runs and I mean to restock and release to the world of those who still care about the book as sacred object. Hence this website, where such folk may come and browse, and hopefully occasionally buy.

Soon there will be more photos of my books blank or limited editions printed here at New Leaf Network bindery, Kaiwaka; and hopefully notable books, blank or printed, illuminated books, leather books, and all manner of art objects in the form of books. Even the ‘altered books’ or book sculptures…

Watch this space, Follow the blog if you are keen for more, and comment below, suggest links to other people’s book art, carved, embossed, tooled, moulded, or sculpted..


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