For me, making books is a hybrid process, falling somewhere between the traditional definitions of art and craft. I like what mid-century English theorist David Pye once said – that a satisfying craft practice involves both the ‘workmanship of certainty’ and the ‘workmanship of risk.’ In my practice, whenever I learn and master a new bookbinding technique, it opens up a huge world of innovation and creativity. The more I learn about structural integrity, the various behaviors of paper alongside modern and historical binding techniques, the more I can stretch and play with the meaning of the word ‘book.’
I’ve always been a maker, raised in an environment where innovation and creativity were nurtured and where material skill was valued. I made my first book in 2006, a simple artists’ book for my school-aged daughter, and was immediately drawn into the world of bookbinding. I was so compelled with how the compact form of the book can house so many wide-ranging ideas.
I have come to appreciate the slowness of making books. It is often a laborious process, but one that is mindful. It has a quiet rhythm, and requires patience. You simply cannot rush. I love the finished product, but for me, the process has become just as important. It is an antidote to my busy, frequently over-digitalized life.
The relational aspect of bookmaking is a source of joy for me. Collaborations have become a large part of my practice. I’ve worked with woodworkers, ceramic and textile artists, painters, and sculptors to make one-of-a-kind objects that showcase each artist’s unique vision.
I like to say that “a book is not just a book.” It is also a symbol, a touchstone, representative of the choice to sit and explore one’s thoughts or the thoughts of others. We read. We write. We think. We relate.